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Giro d’Italia stage 2: Petacchi celebrates, Cavendish remonstrates in ham-fisted Parma finish

Stage 2: Alba to Parma, 244km

Alessandro Petacchi used a combination of speed and experience to edge out Mark Cavendish by the narrowest of margins in a messy bunch finish in Parma, after Omega Pharma-Lotto‘s Sebastian Lang had ploughed a lone furrow out front for nearly 220km. It was Ale-Jet’s 25th career Giro d’Italia stage win. A visibly annoyed Cavendish at least had the satisfaction of taking over the maglia rosa from HTC-Highroad teammate Marco Pinotti, the second time in his career he has worn the leader’s jersey.

Although stage two ultimately followed the traditional breakaway/chase/sprint of a Grand Tour flat day, this was no easy introduction to the main race after the apéritif of the opening team time trial. The longest stage of the race at 244km, this was the best part of six long, hot – albeit scenic – hours in the saddle, with the sprinters’ teams desperate to ensure a bunch finish on the first of a small handful of opportunities for the fast men in this year’s Giro.

The peloton cruises through the countryside in a quieter moment during stage two (image courtesy of Graham Watson)

Lang, a former German national time trial champion making only his second Giro appearance, slipped away from the peloton after just three kilometres, building a lead of over 19 minutes before the pack decided to stretch its legs in pursuit of him. Even when they did, it was hardly the most organised of chases, with several of the other sprinters’ teams extremely reluctant to help HTC-Highroad at the front. Nonetheless, as the race entered its final third and Lang started to tire, Garmin-Cervélo and RadioShack, working for Tyler Farrar and Robbie McEwen, moved up to add numbers at the front of the peloton and the deficit rapidly tumbled.

Petacchi claimed the first individual win of the 2011 Giro

As Lang passed through Piacenza with just over 80km remaining, his advantage had come down to under ten minutes, and by the time he claimed maximum points over the day’s sole climb at Tabiano Castello with 34km left to secure the green jersey for the lead in the mountains classification, it was down to just one. The catch inevitably occurred at 26km, and an equally predictable counter-attack was immediately launched by Farnese Vini‘s Leonardo Giordani, who was joined by seven others to form a new breakaway of eight.

HTC and Garmin were immediately alive to the threat, and the escape’s advantage never exceeded 30 seconds and was reeled in at leisure. Eight became seven when Katusha‘s Eduard Vorganov spectacularly high-sided across the road after what appeared to be contact with one of his fellow escapees, but it made no material difference as the peloton was successfully reintegrated with eight kilometres to the finish.

Petacchi’s Lampre-ISD team, Garmin and HTC drove up the pace to prevent any further attacks, and they were joined by Vacansoleil-DCM, working for their sprinter Borut Božič, but no one team had sufficient numbers to exercise any measure of control and Garmin found themselves manoeuvred to the front and isolated inside the final 2km, putting them at a distinct disadvantage. In a somewhat chaotic finish in which Farrar and McEwen (among others) found themselves quickly swallowed up in the melée, Cavendish was brought up to the front by Mark Renshaw. Petacchi sat on his wheel and kicked about 175 metres out, catching Cavendish on the blind side and then slicing across as he drew in front of him. The Manxman had to check momentarily and change direction, and although he was closing fast in the final 50 metres Petacchi held on by a wheel rim to claim the win.

Petacchi celebrates while Cavendish remonstrates at the finish of stage two (image courtesy of Giro d'Italia)

In truth, it had been an untidy finish all around, with no one team asserting themselves at the front of the line. And Petacchi’s movement across Cavendish’s line, while being the type of move which is far from uncommon in sprinting, was technically against the rules and almost certainly disrupted his rival enough to settle the photo finish in his favour. But to relegate the Italian for a relative misdemeanour would have been as harsh as any decision against a ‘home’ rider at the Giro is unlikely. After a review by the commissaires the result stood, and that was probably correct.

Cavendish, clearly angry as he crossed the line, gesticulated at Petacchi, but at least had the not inconsiderable satisfaction of assuming the maglia rosa thanks to the 12 bonus seconds he earned by finishing second. He now leads four of his HTC-Highroad teammates by that margin, with Petacchi sixth overall at 16 seconds.

Petacchi insisted he had not impeded his rival:

To be honest, the only thing that I noticed is that when I saw him coming up before the sprint, I let him pass along the barriers. I could have closed the door but I didn’t.

Having had the opportunity to cool his heels afterwards, Cavendish explained his anger:

In the past, every time I move one centimetre off my line, I am disqualified. I felt hard-done, because for the same movement, I would have been disqualified.

It’s the price of success, whether it’s other riders, other teams, the jury or race officials, it’s how it is. It’s what I’ve got to deal with. It’s the price of being successful. Now I feel like I have to watch out for everything I do. It’s not fair for me to take that out on Alessandro today. It’s not his fault I am being singled out.

He added on Twitter:

Phew, calmed down now. I’m always disqualified for every little move, but this is not Petacchi’s fault. It’s the fault of the jury or teams who have a prejudice against me. So I’m sorry to Pettachi for taking my frustration out on him. What happened today is sprinting and that’s why I love it. It’s about tactics as well as power. Let’s bring back old school sprinting! Congrats to a great champion today.

He was also delighted to keep the overall lead within the team:

It’s great to be back in the lead of a race as big as the Giro and nothing can overshadow that. To go into tomorrow’s stage wearing a pink jersey is an incredible feeling. To keep the maglia rosa in the team for another day is absolutely beautiful.

And he hoped to be able to contend for the stage win over the next two days:

I absolutely think it’s possible, for sure it’s not as easy as today and it’s a very technical finish, but it could happen, and even the next day too.

We are content with our Giro d’Italia start. We’ve got riders who can contend in every single one of the Giro’s 21 stages.

Stage three is a shorter day, covering 173km from Reggio Emilia to Rapallo and throwing in the first vaguely serious climb of the race, the Passo del Bocco, 40km from the finish. A smaller climb 8km from home will make life difficult for the pure sprinters, and may favour a small breakaway of Classics specialists.

Stage 3 profile

Stage 2 result:

1. Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) 5:45:40

2. Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) same time

3. Manuel Belletti (Colnago-CSF Inox) s/t

4. Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli) s/t

5. Borut Božič (Vacansoleil-DCM) s/t

General classification:

1. Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) 6:06:27

2. Kanstantsin Sivtsov (HTC-Highroad) +0:12

3. Craig Lewis (HTC-Highroad) +0:12

4. Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad) +0:12

5. Lars Bak (HTC-Highroad) +0:12

6. Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) +0:16

7. Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) +0:22

8. Fumiyuki Beppu (RadioShack) +0:22

9. Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack) +0:22

10. Tiago Machado (RadioShack) +0:22

Points classification:

1. Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) 25 pts

2. Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) 20

3. Manuel Belletti (Colnago-CSF Inox) 16

4. Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli) 14

5. Wouter Weylandt (Leopard Trek) 13

Mountains classification:

1. Sebastian Lang (Omega Pharma-Lotto) 3 pts

2. Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas-Cannondale) 2

3. Cristiano Salerno (Liquigas-Cannondale) 1

Links: Giro d’Italia official websiteSteephill.tv

Giro d’Italia recaps

Stage 1: Pinotti swaps red, white and green for pink

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About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

22 Responses to Giro d’Italia stage 2: Petacchi celebrates, Cavendish remonstrates in ham-fisted Parma finish

  1. Sheree says:

    Obviously Petacchi was to be truffled with!

    • Tim says:

      *groans*

      A shame about your non-trip to Turin – as well as being a lovely city it looked like a perfect afternoon to watch some pedalling. And fantastic to see Pinotti swap the national champion’s jersey for the rosa.

      Apparently today’s stage (three) finishes near Petacchi’s home town. I’m still a little dubious over whether yesterday’s chop across Cav’s bows was as innocent as Aleesandro claims, but I suspect he will be in equally determined mood on what is supposed to be a tight, twisty finish on narrow roads. One crash in the final few kilometres? Two? Three?

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