Britain’s Mark Cavendish secured a sixth career stage win in the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday as he continues to rack up victories in the Grand Tours.
The HTC-Highroad rider stormed out from behind Italian Alessandro Petacchi to claim the bunch sprint victory by more than a bike length.
Spain’s Francisco Ventoso came closest to Cavendish on the slightly uphill sprint at Teramo, while Petacchi had to settle for third.
Cavendish, second in the second stage behind Petacchi after the Italian allegedly shifted his line, said he was more than delighted to finally clinch a victory.
“We kept the break at a good distance and when we got to the finish it was a case of staying on the front,” he said. “As soon as I got on Petacchi’s wheel I knew I was in the best position. Petacchi went with 250m to go, I went with 150m and I won.”
Cavendish angrily brushed aside accusations from Ventoso that he had received tows from a team car on the 20km Mount Etna stage.
“We rode like madmen to try and stay inside the time limit,” he said. “It’s always the same, if I’m dropped, but I finish inside the time limit, it means I cheat, but I challenge Ventoso to spend a day with me in the peloton on a mountain stage. If I stop to pee, if I crash and change a wheel, I always have a race official — as well as an ice cream truck and a marching band — all watching me. If I can cheat then I’m [stage magician] David Copperfield.”
The HTC-Highroad rider confirmed that, with few sprint opportunities in the Giro, he had made a specific target of winning stage 10.
“It was one of the three real bunch sprint stages on this year’s race so it was a big goal,” he said. “Fortunately after the rest day I was feeling a bit more recovered and the team rode brilliantly.”
Following his devastating win on Mount Etna on stage nine, -Alberto Contador of Spain remains the overall leader for a second day.
His pink jersey visible at the front of the pack in the closing kilometers of the largely flat stage as he sought to avoid crashes, Contador told reporters he had been a bit nervous at the finish, but had had no problems.
“I’m taking this on day by day, and today everything went fine,” he said.
Meanwhile, hundreds of fans, riders and cycling officials attended the funeral of Wouter Weylandt yesterday, who died following a crash during the competition last week.
Several of Weylandt’s Leopard-Trek teammates, including star rider Fabian Cancellara, attended the ceremony at Ghent’s Saint Peter’s church. Huge screens were placed outside the church for fans who could not get in.
The Giro was also planning a minute’s silence at the start of yesterday’s stage to honor the Belgian rider, who fell on a descent during the third stage of the three-week race through Italy.