Italy’s Roberto Ferrari of the Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela team surprised the other sprinters as he powered his way to first place on the 11th stage of the Tour of Italy on Wednesday.
Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez retained the overall leader’s pink jersey after the 258km stage, the longest in this year’s race, in which Italy’s Francesco Chicchi was second just ahead of Lithuanian Tomas Vaitkus.
World champion Mark Cavendish finished fourth despite the Sky Procycling rider being well placed to challenge in third, just 400m from the line, when several riders fell coming out of the final bend.
The Briton could not match the final sprint of 29-year-old Ferrari, the rider who was responsible for Cavendish’s fall during the third stage in Denmark, and who achieved the biggest win of his career.
“It’s the win of a lifetime! Winning a stage of the Giro, it’s top for an Italian rider. I wanted to make up for what happened in Denmark [the third stage]. I apologize once again,” Ferrari said. “I thank the jury for letting me continue in the race, who understood that it wasn’t a deliberate mistake.”
Cavendish also expressed his anger at the third stage crash caused by Ferrari, veering wildly and taking down the Briton and several other riders.
“I congratulate you [Ferrari] for today, but you’re lucky to still be in the race ... But the commissioners should have sent you home,” Cavendish said.
Cavendish, who kissed his new-born daughter Delilah on crossing the line, admitted that he had desperately wanted to win the stage, having lived at nearby Quarrata in the Tuscan region for several years.
“I’m disappointed with my sprint. I wanted to win in front of my girlfriend and Delilah, but today my teammates and I made mistakes,” said Cavendish, who nevertheless won in front of his girlfriend Peta Todd and daughter in the fifth stage on Thursday last week.
On a marathon stage lasting just under seven hours, a group of five riders — Oliver Kaisen, Mickael Delage, Manuele Boaro, Stefan Denifl and Adrien Saez — broke away from the 10km mark and lasted until the final kilometers.
Luxembourg’s Frank Schleck lost 46 seconds, which could have cost last year’s Tour de France third-place finisher a bid for a podium place.
The 12th stage covers 155km from Seravezza to Sestri Levante and includes one category two and two category three climbs, the final one just 11km from the finish line, on the Ligurian coast in northwestern Italy.
TOUR OF CALIFORNIA
AFP, CLOVIS, California
Slovakian Peter Sagan won his fourth consecutive stage of the Tour of California on Wednesday’s fourth stage, leaving Australian Heinrich Haussler runner-up for the fourth day in a row.
Sagan, a 22-year-old rider for the Liquigas-Cannondale team, stretched his -overall lead to 16 -seconds over Garmin-Barracuda rider Haussler with the victory in the 209.6km stage, winning with a time of 5 hours, 18 minutes, 8 seconds.
Sagan has an overall time of 19:52:52 ahead of yesterday’s fifth stage, a 29.7km time trial at Bakersfield.
After Haussler in the overall chase are Americans Jeffry Louder at 34 seconds, Alex Howes at 35 seconds and Freddy Rodriguez at 36 seconds.
Australian Michael Matthews was third in the stage followed by Belgium’s Tom Boonen, the world’s top-ranked cyclist.
The race continues through Sunday, with a pivotal day being tomorrow’s 186.3km mountain stage at Mount Baldy.