Britain's Mark Cavendish won the Tour of Italy's 13th stage on Friday, his third stage win overall, with Russia's Denis Menchov retaining the leader's pink jersey.
Cavendish, who rides for the Columbia team, broke for the line with 300m to go and managed to hold off a challenge from Italy's Alessandro Petacchi to cross the line in first place. Australia's Allan Davis took third place ahead of Robert Hunter of South Africa.
Rabobank rider Menchov held onto first place in the overall standings after a 176km stage through the Tuscan countryside that took place amid soaring temperatures and in front of huge crowds.
Cavendish, 24, beat Petacchi by a length and now has five Giro d'Italia stage successes to his name, having picked up two stage victories in last year's race.
"We'll see tonight [whether I continue]. I want to go on… I'll speak with my team. I want to try and stay for as long as possible, but I've got other objectives for the year," Cavendish said.
A few hours later, the team issued a statement.
"Stage 13 will be Cavendish’s last stage of the 2009 Giro d’Italia," it read. "He will head home today and begin his recovery and lead up to the Tour de France."
Germany's Björn Schröder led the first breakaway with Italy's Leonardo Scarselli and Russia's Mikhail Ignatiev just 12km after the start in Lido di Camaiore. Schröder led with 30km to go but was eventually reined in by the peloton 6km from home.
During the race, Italian former sprint-specialist Mario Cipollini managed to infiltrate the peloton for a few moments, according to Italian public television station RAI.
"The Giro passed right in front of my house, so I took the opportunity to say hello to a few friends," said the 2002 world champion, who won a record 42 stages in the race during his cycling career.
Saturday's 14th stage is a hilly 172km course between Campi Bisenzio on the outskirts of Florence and Bologna.
© AFP 2009
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