Mark Cavendish got what he was looking for in Denmark on Sunday, winning stage 2 at the Giro d’Italia in the world champion’s jersey.
Cavendish (Sky) topped Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) in a hectic bunch sprint after 206 windy kilometers along the Danish coast. The win is the Manxman’s eighth at the Tour of Italy and the first for a world champion at the Giro since 2010.
“I am quite pleased to win this first stage in the Giro,” said Cavendish. “I usually do not win the first stage in a grand tour. This is a new team and this is my fifth win with the team. It’s good to win in the jersey.”
Cavendish said that his new, reduced weight gave him reservation before the finale. The world champion has trimmed down looking ahead to the Box Hill course at the London Olympics later this year.
“I wasn’t so sure how the sprint was going to go. I have lost a lot of weight,” he said. “It’s been awhile since I won a race. My sensations were good there. That’s OK. I was able to kick again. I felt good during the day. It wasn’t an easy day. The bunch was all bunched up. It might have looked easy on TV. It was windy. We were fighting all day. It wasn’t an easy task.”
American Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) encountered late disaster when he crashed with 8km to go and was delayed with a dropped chain. Phinney chased back onto the peloton and finished in the bunch to retain his overall lead.
“I just found myself on the ground, having touched wheels and lost balance,” he said. “Then I couldn’t get my chain back on. So I kind of made a second prologue effort. I was quite scared there for a second that I was going to lose the jersey.”
Alessandro Ballan and Danilo Wyss dropped back to help the 21-year-old maglia rosa. They caught on with 4.6km remaining.
“I had a lot of adrenaline going,” said Phinney. “You can’t really give a sigh of relief once you get to the back of the pack because there could be splits in it. Then there was that crash with 500 meters to go.”
The day began with a three-man break as Alfredo Balloni (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia), Olivier Kaisen (Lotto-Belisol) and Miguel Rubiano (Androni Giocattoli) opened up a lead of 12 minutes at one point, helped with a couple of crashes that slowed the peloton.
After the day’s long breakaway fell apart 40km from the line, Dane Lars Bak (Lotto) attacked with just over 30km to go and stretched a solo lead out to more than 40 seconds. Behind him, Orica-GreenEdge and Sky led the chase, with Lampre-ISD, Astana and Katusha vying for control of the peloton. Bak, a former High Road teammate of Cavendish and Goss, couldn’t make the dream finish in his home country come through, and the peloton scooped him up with 17km remaining.
Garmin-Barracuda and Orica led the field into the final, right-hand corner at 500 meters to go. A few wheels deep in the bunch, Rabobank’s Theo Bos and Mark Renshaw touched wheels, setting off a crash that took down Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff and split the race. A handful of riders contested the slightly uphill finale, with Cavendish powering away with Goss in the closing meters.
Keep your browser pointed to VeloNews.com today for a detailed race report, galleries, video and analysis from stage 2 of the Giro d’Italia.