Cycling: Sky make flying start to deliver Mark Cavendish win

 

Herning

Mark Cavendish proved he is bang on track for his twin main targets of 2012, the Tour de France and the London Olympic road-race, with a stunning win in the first road stage of the Giro d'Italia yesterday.

Despite the deeply unfamiliar surroundings of central Denmark for the Giro – all part of a three-day visit by the race to Scandinavia – Cavendish seized the eighth Giro win of his career with a trademark acceleration in the last 150 metres. But if the pancake flat 206 kiloemetre run across the plains and coast of Jutland – the highest point being all of 59 metres above sea level – made a bunch sprint a near-inevitability, the Manxman's 26th Grand Tour stage victory of his career was not the most straightforward.

A crash on a sharp righthander in the final kilometre saw several sprinters, including the Netherlands' Theo Bos, go down, and although Cavendish avoided that perfectly, there was then a short but steady uphill finish – not his ideal finale – to contend with. However, after some superb leadout work by Welsh team-mate Geraint Thomas allowed him to pick a safe line through the swirling pack, Cavendish swung out of the bunch with 200 metres to go, at which point only Australia Matt Goss was able to shadow him closely.

In a carbon copy of the sprint on gradually rising terrain which netted the Sky professional the victory in the World Championships in Denmark ahead of Goss last year, Cavendish doggedly stayed ahead for the 80th road victory of his career.

"I'm very pleased, it was windy today and not easy," Cavendish – after giving Thomas a huge hug of thanks – said afterwards, "and there weren't too many teams interested in keeping the bunch together as a unit.

"[Local team] Saxo Bank really wanted to break it up at one point so we had to be careful and really be on our guard. My team-mate Ian Stannard rode his heart out on the front of the bunch for nearly 150 kilometres." It was a performance which will have done the Londoner's chances of joining Cavendish as support rider for Olympic road-race no harm whatsoever. Cavendish added: "But we had a new team that hasn't really ridden together before as a sprint team, so it was great to see how it all worked out perfectly."

Encouragingly for Cavendish, this is his earliest win ever in the Giro. Not since 2009, when the Manxman won the second stage of Tour de France, has he succeeded at winning so swiftly in one of cycling's top three races. There could be lots more victories to come.

Compared with 2last year, when there were only three sprint stages – and Cavendish took two – this year's Giro is a far kinder affair for the fastmen, with six possible bunch sprints. Today in Horsens, should the crosswinds on the flatlands of central Denmark fail to split the pack beforehand, Cavendish will have an excellent chance of taking a back-to-back triumph.

"I'll try to win as many of them as possible, but this is the Giro d'Italia," he said. "It's a very special race for me, but it's one of the biggest races in the world and victories don't come easy."

Overall the race lead remains held by Taylor Phinney, despite a fall eight kilometres from the finish which saw the 21-year-old American come within a whisker of losing his leader's jersey. After yesterday's win, Cavendish, meanwhile, has the red points jersey of the Giro to add to that of world champion.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Exciting career prospect for ...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Media Sales - OTE up to £30,000

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning company, whi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Developer

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique & exciting opp...

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Day In a Page

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935