Cavendish off to Giro flyer

Mark Cavendish claimed the spoils on the opening stage of the Giro d’Italia, benefitting from a crash in the final kilometre to snatch the win for his Omega Pharma team.

Cavendish off to Giro flyer

Mark Cavendish claimed the spoils on the opening stage of the Giro d’Italia, benefitting from a crash in the final kilometre to snatch the win for his Omega Pharma team.

The Manxman lay eighth heading into the final stretch of the 130km stage around Naples but the peloton was split when several riders went down, allowing Cavendish to nip through ahead of Elia Viviani (Cannondale) and Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ).

The stage win, and subsequent 12 bonus seconds, sees Cavendish take the pink jersey from defending champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp).

Today's stage got under way in hot temperatures, with the riders having to complete four laps on the Posillipo circuit before heading out of Naples and back again on a long loop.

It was Cameron Wurf who did most of the early running for Cannondale, joining a breakaway from the peleton 30 kilometres into the race before heading out on his own.

At one stage the Australian was over two minutes ahead of the chasing pack but was eventually sucked back into the peleton with just under 20 kilometres remaining.

Omega Pharma, Lampre Merida and Team Sky then began to bunch at the front of the peleton in the hope of setting up their sprinters as the finish line approached.

Orica GreenEdge also got themselves in the mix with Matt Goss their hope of victory, and the Australian was tussling with Cavendish in the middle of the peleton as the riders approached the final few kilometres, with Viviani in pole position at that point.

However, a big crash left only a handful of riders in the hunt and as Goss faded it was Cavendish who came from behind to snatch the win by a wheel.

It was the 11th stage win of Cavendish’s career in the Giro but the Briton admitted he found the going tough.

“It was a difficult stage,” he said on Eurosport.

“It was not an easy stage with all the corners but the team did incredible to stay at the front.

“I was so tired and it was so hot out there but I wanted it so bad.”

Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins was some way off the frontrunners, although he is expected to fare better in tomorrow’s time trial.

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