Giro 4: Mark Cavendish wins bunch sprint

High Road rider defeats Förster and Bennati

British cyclist Mark Cavendish, riding for the High Road team, prevailed in a sprint for the fourth stage honours of the Tour of Italy into Catanzaro on Tuesday.

Liquigas' Italian rider Franco Pellizotti retained the leader's pink jersey after the 183 kilometre run to this seaside resort on the Giro's first day on the Italian mainland.

This was Cavendish's first win in the event and he achieved it by proving too strong in the final push for the line from Germany's Robert Forster and third stage winner, Daniele Bennati of Italy.

"This is my finest victory," the Briton said. "It was the result of my team's work which kept me surrounded over the last 20km. The wind was blowing hard and Bennati went off at a good time, but I was able to follow him and overtake him. In terms of the sprinter's hierarchy I reckon I'm among the best."

Pellizotti added: "I'm the happiest man in the world. Tomorrow (Wednesday) I hope to retain the jersey. We're about to come up against the important stages."

The final kilometre was marred by a mass spill which fractured the peloton. Belgian Rik Verbrugghe took the race by the scruff of the neck from the off, remaining in front until 20km from the line.

The former pink jersey wearer - he wore it briefly in 2001 - had built up an 11 minute cushion at the 110km mark but was eventually reeled in by a chasing pack marshalled by several teams doing the donkey work for their top sprinters.

One of these teams was High Road, whose plan to unleash the 21-year-old Isle of Man-born Cavendish worked to perfection. This was the budding sprinters' fifth win of the season and he was adding it to his success with compatriot Bradley Wiggins in the men's Madison gold at the world track cycling championships in Manchester in March.

Wednesday's fifth stage is a 203km run between Belvedere Marittimo to Contursi Terme near Salerno.

For full results, report and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.

© BikeRadar & AFP 2008 

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