Britain's Mark Cavendish, riding for the High Road team, won Friday's 13th stage of the Tour of Italy with Italian Giovanni Visconti holding on to the race leader's pink jersey.
Cavendish was gaining quick revenge on second-placed Daniele Bennati, who 24 hours earlier had narrowly beaten the Isle of Man-born sprinter in Carpi. This time a two-bike gap split the pair after the 177km run held in showery conditions from Modena.
“Bennati’s a gentlemen, he made way for me in the sprint,” said Cavendish, who with compatriot Bradley Wiggins won the men’s Madison gold at the world track cycling championships in Manchester in March.
Bennati said: “Of course I’m disappointed to get beaten, but I was feeling tired during the stage. Cavendish deserved to win the sprint.”
Third spot went to Spain’s Koldo Fernandez, ahead of German veteran Erik Zabel.
Cavendish, who turned 22 on Wednesday, was adding this to his win in stage four of this year’s Giro. On Friday, the peloton tackle the first day in the Dolomites, with the specialist climbers coming to the fore.
“These are my stages,” predicted a bullish Riccardo Ricco, who is eagerly awaiting today’s mega run featuring no fewer than six climbs.
The 14th stage has as its highlight the seemingly never ending 23km climb up the “passo Manghen.”
Gilberto Simoni, who won this stage back in 2003, the year of his second Giro success, said: “This is another Giro that’s starting, a harder Giro. Who is going to survive? We’ll soon find out. One thing’s for sure though — whoever is the winner is going to have to fight.”
Friday’s action was curtailed after the last 3km around the tiny city of Citadella were canceled because of security concerns. This caused a certain amount of confusion, with some of the leading protagonists like Ricco losing around 13 seconds behind the main group.
The day was marked by Mickael Buffaz’s breakaway with Josu Agirre, with the pair finally being reeled in 12km from the finish to set up the inevitable sprint — an ideal scenario for the speedy Cavendish.