The "Manx Missile" rode according to plan.
World champion Mark Cavendish showed his sprint rivals he is still the man to beat as he won the second stage of the Giro d'Italia 206km around Herning on Sunday. American Taylor Phinney survived a late crash to hold onto the leaders' pink jersey. Phinney lost his chain with about 8km left but his BMC team worked hard to bring him back into the peloton before the final sprint began.
There was another crash a few hundred meters from the line that took out some of the sprint contenders but Cavendish was in the right place and kept his cool to take victory. Australian Matthew Goss was second with Frenchman Geoffrey Soupe taking third.
The day began with a three-man break as Alfredo Balloni, Olivier Kaisen and Miguel Rubiano opened up a lead of 12 minutes at one point. They were helped by a couple of crashes slowing up the peloton but were still reeled in with just under 40km to race.
Lars Bak tried to go solo in front of his home crowd but he was swallowed up with 16km left. Phinney then fell off the back of the peloton because of his dropped chain. He looked to have come off his bike and seemed to be sporting an injury but once he was back up and running again four team-mates quickly came back to pace him back to the peloton.
The final crash happened on the last bend as two Rabobank riders seemed to touch wheels, bringing down a host of sprinters. But Cavendish was clear ahead of that and managed to keep his nerve and find the right wheel before springing clear to win.
THE MANX MISSILE HAD PLANS....
World champion Mark Cavendish says he was hungry to embellish his impressive victory tally at the Giro d'Italia which begins next week. Cavendish, a 20-time stage winner at the Tour de France, has won seven stages at the three-week Italian stage race as well as three at the Tour of Spain.
But despite targeting more success, the Isle of Man sprinter hopes teammates Geraint Thomas, Ben Swift and Peter Kennaugh - all of whom competed at the track world championships earlier this month in Melbourne - share in the glory.
"The Giro is one of my favorite races of the season and I'm very happy to be riding it," Cavendish said. "We've got a good squad to go and win stages. Geraint, Pete and Swifty have just come off the track so they should have that explosive power which will be important in the first week, and the rest of the team have all done well in the Classics. We want to win the team time trial as well and hopefully that will get us the pink jersey. If we could achieve that it would be a massive honour for the team. It should be a really good three weeks because we're all friends and have a good understanding on the road."
Thomas, who won the Tour of Romandie prologue earlier this week, added:
"I'm really looking forward to the Giro, especially as I haven't ridden a great deal on the road this season. I took part in the race once before in 2008 and found it to be a lot less stressful than the Tour de France. The atmosphere is fantastic and Italy is a special country to ride in."
Sky's sports director Steven de Jongh is hoping that once the race moves into the mountains Rigoberto Uran and Sergio Henao come into their own.
He said: "Once the race hits the mountains Rigoberto and Sergio will become our focus and if Rigo can continue the good form he showed over the spring then he is more than capable of achieving a high placing in the General Classification."
Herning, Denmark, May 6, 2012 (AFP) - Results and standings from the second stage of the Giro d'Italia, a 206km ride around Herning on Sunday:
1. Mark Cavendish (IDM/SKY) 4hr 53min 12sec, 2. Matthew Goss (AUS/GEC) same time, 3. Geoffrey Soupe (FRA/FDJ) s.t., 4. Tyler Farrar (USA/GRM) s.t., 5.Roberto Ferrari (ITA/AND) s.t., 6. Mark Renshaw (AUS/RAB) s.t., 7. Thor Hushovd (NOR/BMC) s.t., 8. Daniele Bennati (ITA/RSH) s.t., 9. William Bonnet (FRA/FDJ), 10. Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY) s.t. 11. Timon Seubert (GER/APP) s.t., 12. Mickael Delage (FRA/FDJ) s.t., 13. Robert Hunter (RSA/GRM) s.t., 14. Matthias Brandle (AUT/APP) s.t, 15. Daryl Impey (RSA/GEC) s.t., 16. Juan Jose Haedo (ARG/SAX) s.t., 17. Thomas Rohregger (AUT/RSH) s.t., 18. Mirko Selvaggi (ITA/VAC) s.t., 19. Fumiyuki Beppu (JPN/GEC) s.t., 20. Nikolas Maes (BEL/OPQ) s.t.
1. Taylor Phinney (USA/BMC) 5hr 03min 38sec, 2. Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY) at 9sec, 3. Alex Rasmussen (DEN/GRM) 13, 4. Manuele Boro (ITA/SAX) 15, 5. Gustav Larsson (SWE/VAC) 22, 6. Ramunas Navardauskas (LTU/GRM) 22, 7. Brett Lancaster (AUS/GEC) 23, 8. Marco Pinotti (ITA/BMC) 24, 9. Jesse Sergent (NZL/RSH) 26, 10. Nelson Oliveira (POR/RSH) 27 11. Tomas Vaitkus (LTU/GEC) 27, 12. Mark Cavendish (IDM/SKY) 27, 13. Stef Clement (NED/RAB) 28, 14. Robert Hunter (RSA/GRM) 28, 15. Jack Bauer (NZL/GRM) 28, 16. Maciej Bodnar (POL/LIQ) 29, 17. Enrico Gasparotto (ITA/AST) 29, 18. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN/GRM) 29, 19. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/OPQ) 29, 20. Dario Cataldo (ITA/OPQ) 31