Mark Cavendish wins the first stage of cycling's Giro d'Italia, while Bradley Wiggins sticks with the peloton

Cavendish pleased to win 'difficult, difficult stage'

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The Independent Online

Mark Cavendish has won the first stage of the Giro d'Italia with a sprint finish in Naples.

The British rider looked in trouble when his lead-out man faltered, but still beat Elia Viviani on the line. He will wear the leader's pink jersey for a fourth time on Sunday.

It is the Omega Pharma-Quickstep rider's eleventh stage win in the Italian race. He recorded a time of two hours, 58 minutes, 38 seconds but as stage winner he picks up a 20-second bonus.

Bradley Wiggins finished 18 seconds behind Cavendish in the peloton with the other leading contenders, but shouldn't struggle to make up the deficit in the hillier stages.

Wiggins is aiming to become the first British winner of the Giro d'Italia, having won the Tour de France in 2012.

Cavendish said: "It was a difficult, difficult stage for me.

"It was not easy with all the corners but the team did incredible to stay at the front. We didn't get it quite right at the end and Gert [Steegmans] had a mechanical in the final kilo which we need to look at.

"They are costing us too many races. It was really, really hot out there but I wanted it so bad.

"I came here to win sprints and I've started the race the way I wanted to."

A crash in the final couple of kilometres splintered the peloton but Cavendish was unaffected and he was left to contest the sprint finish with around 10 other riders.

Matthew Goss looked in prime position to take the stage win with a good lead-out from his Orica GreenEdge team-mates but the Australian was left trailing as first Viviani powered past.

But hopes of a home winner were dashed on the line by Cavendish. France's Nacer Bouhanni finished third.

Britain's Adam Blythe, riding for BMC Racing, finished seventh.