Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen won a chaotic group finish Friday to take the sixth stage of the Giro d'Italia.
Olympic champion Paolo Bettini reclaimed the overall leader's pink jersey. A 6-second bonus from a mid-stage sprint moved him 3 seconds clear of Danilo Di Luca in the standings.
Di Luca had snatched the pink jersey from Bettini by winning Thursday's stage.
McEwen overtook Davitamon-Lotto teammate Henk Vogels, who had tried a solo finish by rushing into the lead in the last kilometer, and edged Jaan Kirsipuu of Estonia, Volodymyr Bileka of Ukraine and Spain's Isaac Galvez Lopez for his second stage win.
"I'm sorry for Vogels, but I realized at 300 meters that the group was going to overtake him, so I launched my own sprint," McEwen said. "The final circuit was quite complicated, with a lot of corners. It was a great victory for me and the team."
Italy's top sprinter Alessandro Petacchi lost his chance of a first stage win when he and some of his Fassa Bortolo teammates, who led going into the sprint, skidded off and fell at a tight corner.
Petacchi, who set a record of nine stage wins in last year's Giro, was 2 minutes slower than McEwen in the stage but the gap was canceled in the overall standings. Giro rules state that cyclists delayed by spills or mechanical problems in the final kilometer have the time lost canceled.
McEwen, who had won the second leg Monday, reached a peak speed of 65kph during the sprint. He completed the 153km distance from Viterbo to Marina di Grosseto, along the Thyrrenian sea, in 3 hours, 37 minutes, 17 seconds.
Today's seventh stage runs from Grosseto to Pistoia.