Britain’s world road-race champion Mark Cavendish won the 209km fifth stage of the Giro d’Italia for his second win in this year’s race on Thursday and celebrated by taking his baby daughter onto the podium.
Lithuanian rider Ramunas Navardauskas retained the overall leader’s pink jersey.
Cavendish, 26, shrugged off the deep bruising he suffered to his left side when he crashed at Horsens, Denmark, on Monday to edge out Australian Matt Goss, winner of Monday’s stage, Italian Daniele Bennati and South African ace Robert Hunter.
It was Cavendish’s sixth win of the season and ninth overall in the Giro, in which he is competing for the fourth time, taking him to 32 stage wins in the major Tours.
“As I couldn’t sleep after my fall, I wasn’t 100 percent and I felt tired,” said the Isle of Man-born rider, who embraced his former-model girlfriend Peta Todd and daughter Delilah Grace on dismounting.
“However, in front of my girlfriend and my daughter I couldn’t afford to slip up. It is the first time that Delilah Grace has come to watch me race and she gets to get on the podium with me. Have you noticed she is wearing pink? I am very proud of her and I want her to be proud of me,” he said.
Cavendish’s task was made easier when several of his major rivals, such as Thor Hushovd, were dropped from the peloton in the final 30km when the Liquigas team of Ivan Basso upped the pace, aided by Czech rider Roman Kreuziger.
The British star’s Sky team then came into their own in the final 10km as both Peter Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas paced him before the “Manx Express” burst to the front to take the glory.
Navardauskas, who took the leader’s pink jersey on Wednesday’s team time-trial, came in with the peloton.
Goss said he had lost out to the stronger man.
“What do you want me to say, Cavendish is easily the strongest rider,” the Australian said.
“We went for the line at the same time and he finished in front of me. Is he unbeatable? If I thought that, it wouldn’t make any sense for me to take him on,” Goss added.
Yesterday the riders had a 210km stage a little more challenging than Thursday’s with four climbs, the last 33.5km from the finish.
They will set out from Urbino, the birthplace of Renaissance painting master Raphael, and finish at Porto Sant’Elpidio on the coast.