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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Neil Young performs on stage at Hyde Park
musicAnd his Hyde Park set has rhyme and reason, writes Nick Hasted
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Campaign Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency is currently ...

Software Engineer - C++

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Software En...

Software Team Leader - C++

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Software Tea...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor