An Italian winning a Giro stage on an Italian bike!
Italy's Roberto Ferrari of the Androni team surprised the other sprinters as he powered his way to first place in the 11th stage of the Tour of Italy here on Wednesday. Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez retained the overall leader's pink jersey after the 258km stage, the longest in this year's race, in which Italy's Francesco Chicchi was second just ahead of Lithuanian Tomas Vaitkus.
World champion Mark Cavendish however finished fourth despite the Sky rider being well placed to challenge in third just 400 meters from the line when several riders fell coming out of the final bend. The Briton could not match the final sprint of 29-year-old Ferrari, the rider who was responsible for Cavendish's fall during the third stage in Denmark, and who achieved the biggest win of his career.
"It's the win of a lifetime! Winning a stage of the Giro, it's top for an Italian rider. I wanted to make up for what happened in Denmark (the third stage). I apologize once again. I thank the jury for letting me continue in the race, who understood that it wasn't a deliberate mistake."
Cavendish also expressed his anger at the third stage crash caused by Ferrari veering wildly and taking down the Briton and several other riders.
"I congratulate you (Ferrari) for today but you're lucky to still be in the race," Cavendish said. "But the commissioners should have sent you home."
Cavendish, who kissed his new-born daughter Delilah on crossing the line, admitted that he had desperately wanted to win the stage, having lived at nearby Quarrata in the Tuscan region for several years.
"I'm disappointed with my sprint. I wanted to win in front of my girlfriend and Delilah. But today my teammates and I made mistakes," said Cavendish, who nevertheless won in front of his girlfriend Peta Todd and daughter in the fifth stage last Thursday.
In a marathon stage lasting just under seven hours a group of five riders - Oliver Kaisen, Mickael Delage, Manuele Boaro, Stefan Denifl, Adrien Saez - broke away from the 10km mark and which lasted until the final kilometers.
Luxembourg's Frank Schleck lost 46 seconds which could have cost last year's Tour de France third-place finisher's bid for a podium place.
Thursday's 12th stage covers 155km from Seravezza to Sestri Levante and includes one category two and two category three climbs the final just 11km from the finish line on the Ligurian coast in north western Italy.
RESULTS: The 11th stage of the Giro d'Italia, a 258km ride from Assisi.
1. Roberto Ferrari (ITA/AND) 6hr 49min 05sec, 2. Francesco Chicchi (ITA/OPQ) same time, 3. Tomas Vaitkus (LTU/GEC) s.t., 4. Mark Cavendish (GBR/SKY) s.t., 5. Manuel Belletti (ITA/ALM) s.t., 6. Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA/RSH) s.t., 7. Daniel Schorn (AUT/APP) s.t., 8. Arnaud Demare (FRA/FDJ) s.t., 9. Danilo Wyss (SUI/BMC) s.t., 10. Geoffrey Soupe (FRA/FDJ) s.t.
16. Mark Renshaw (AUS/RAB) s.t, 36. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) s.t., 42. Paolo Tiralongo (ITA/AST) s.t., 71. Ivan Basso (ITA/LIQ) s.t., 95. Frank Schleck (LUX/RSH) s.t., 158. Taylor Phinney (USA/BMC) at 10min 02sec
1. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 47hr 16min 39sec, 2. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN/GRM) at 17sec, 3. Paolo Tiralongo (ITA/AST) 32, 4. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/AST) 52, 5. Benat Intxausti (ESP/MOV) 52, 6. Ivan Basso (ITA/LIQ) 57, 7. Damiano Caruso (ITA/LIQ) 1min 02sec, 8. Dario Cataldo (ITA/OPQ) 1:03, 9. Eros Capecchi (ITA/LIQ) 1:09, 10. Rigoberto Uran (COL/SKY) 1:10.
23. Frank Schleck (LUX/RSH) 2:11, 153. Matthew Goss (AUS/GEC) 1hr 13min 18sec, 161. Mark Cavendish (GBR/SKY) 1hr 17:25, 187. Taylor Phinney (USA/BMC) 1hr 53:12.