Cipollini cashes in on final corner crash

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The Independent Online
Mario Cipollini pounced in Cervia for his second stage triumph in 24 hours in the Giro d'Italia as some of his rivals struggled on the ride from Mestre yesterday.

Cipollini, winner of Saturday's opening stage in Venice, clocked up his 18th Giro win on the promenade of the Adriatic resort and his first clad in the pink jersey of race leader. The Tuscan sprinter's overall lead grew from an overnight four seconds to 16 as his rival, Nicola Minali, crashed in the final sprint, 200 metres from the finish. The Czech rider Jan Svorada edged out Endrio Leoni for second place in the stage.

Minali, whose back wheel skidded as he pursued Cipollini out of the last of several tricky bends, ended in a heap with the Ukrainian Sergei Uchakov, Switzerland's Armin Meier and Italy's Elio Aggiano. As the crash happened within the final kilometre the fallers were credited with the same time as Cipollini.

Fabio Baldato, another Cipollini rival, criticised the 4.85-mile finishing circuit, which the 179 riders covered four times. He was involved in an earlier spill with compatriots Denis Zanette, Maurizio Molinari and Gianluca Pianegonda. "There was bend after bend. Those who designed this course are murderers. I crashed without knowing what had happened," he said.

In strength-sapping conditions, with temperatures of 29C and 44 per cent humidity, the long slog over the flatlands to the coast was broken by the Italian duo Gianpaolo Mondini and Andrea Dolci, who built a lead of 4min 45sec in a 75-km breakaway. It collapsed in the final 55km as the team-mates of the sprint specialists lifted the pace so that no one could escape.

Tonkov and Berzin are favourites for Monday's 18-km time-trial into the Republic of San Marino.