Giro 2: Alessandro Petacchi pips Cavendish

But Manxman keeps pink jersey

Britain's Mark Cavendish of the Columbia team retained the race leader's pink jersey ahead of Aussie teammate Mark Renshaw on Sunday after Alessandro Petacchi of LPR won stage two of the Tour of Italy at Trieste.

"I chose just the right moment to set off on the sprint," said a jubilant Petacchi, who returned in some style after missing last year's Giro through a doping suspension.

The 35-year-old landed his 25th stage success in the event overall - though the official tally stands at 20 with the remainder scrubbed from the record owing to his doping offence.

"I want to thank and compliment my teammates. I was on Cavendish's wheel. I had been asking myself for several days how to beat him. We'd never previously gone head to head in a sprint. He's a great champion."

Petacchi just edged out the racer from the Isle of Man, who had taken the opening honours with his Colombia colleagues on Saturday in the team time-trial at the Venice Lido. Briton Ben Swift placed third Sunday pushing Australian Allan Davis out of the podium places with American Tyler Farrar fifth after the 156 km ride.

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, a major draw here despite insisting he is not in the running for overall victory, has made a solid start to his maiden showing.

The veteran Texan was right up there as he finished in the bunched pack of sprinters along with Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer and is just 27sec off the pace going into day three - 11sec off seventh-placed Petacchi but 13sec better off than Leipheimer.

"I felt good on the bike. My legs felt good," said Armstrong, who was impressed by the crowds who lined a course swathed in sunshine.

"I was a little nervous like everyone is, but overall impressions were good."

A late pile-up saw one of the top overall favourites, Ivan Basso, lose 13 seconds on the road from Jesolo to Trieste.

Belgian Philippe Gilbert, aided and abetted by Italians Filippo Pozzato and Enrico Gasparotto, tried to escape 4.5 km out but were rapidly reined in.

Another Italian, Leonardo Scarselli of ISD, had made an early push for the front after just 9km but was then overhauled on the first of three final 11km-long circuits having enjoyed an 8min 20sec lead at the 51km mark.

German Matthias Russ fell on that same circuit and withdrew.

Monday's third stage is a 198 km ride from Grado to Valdobbiadene, before the racers contemplate the approach to the mountain stages.

For full results, report and photos, visit Make sure to read Daniel Friebe's daily Procycling blog from Italy.

© AFP 2009

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