Mark Cavendish (High Road) made up for yesterday's near miss by winning stage 13 of the Giro d'Italia in Cittadella. The Manxman beat Daniele Bennati by over a bike length at the end of the 177km stage. Koldo Fernandez (Euskaltel) finished third.
The race lead stayed with Giovanni Visconti (QuickStep), who will be hard pressed to defend the pink jersey in the mountain stages on the weekend.
"Bennati's a gentlemen, he made way for me in the sprint," said Cavendish who with compatriot Bradley Wiggins won the men's Madison gold at the world track cycling championships in Manchester in March. Cavendish, who turned 22 on Wednesday, was adding this to his win in stage four of this year's Giro.
Bennati added: "Of course I'm disappointed to get beaten but I was feeling tired during the stage. Cavendish deserved to win the sprint." Third spot went to Spain's Koldo Fernandez ahead of German veteran Erik Zabel.
On Saturday the peloton tackle the first day in the Dolomites with the specialist climbers coming to the fore.
"These are my stages," predicted a bullish Riccardo Ricco, who is eagerly awaiting Sunday's mega run featuring no fewer than six climbs. Saturday's 14th stage has as its highlight the seemingly never ending 23km climb up the 'passo Manghen'.
Gilberto Simoni, who won this stage back in 2003, the year of his second Giro success, added: "This is another Giro that's starting, a harder Giro. Who is going to survive? We'll soon find out. One thing's for sure though - whoever is the winner is going to have to fight."
Friday's action was curtailed after the last three kilometres around the tiny city of Citadella were cancelled due to security concerns. This caused a certain amount of confusion with some of the leading protagonists like Ricco losing around 13 seconds behind the main group.
The day was marked by Mickael Buffaz's breakaway with Josu Agirre with the pair finally being reeled in a dozen kilometres from the finish to set up the inevitable sprint - an ideal scenario for the speedy Cavendish.
For full results, report and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.