Giro d'Italia 11: Ferrari sprints to win in Montecatini Terme

Rodriguez keeps maglia rosa

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Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giacattoli-Venezuela) who caused the major crash on stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia, won the sprint stage 11. Francesco Chicchi (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) was second, with Tomas Vaitkus (GreenEdge) third. Top favourite Mark Cavendish, who lost his teammates to a crash in the final turn, was unable to move up to the front and was fourth.

Joaquim Rodriguez defended his overall lead, and there were no changes in the top five.

It was the second stage win for Androni Giocattoli and the first Grand Tour victory for the controversial sprinter Ferrari.

“This is the victory of a lifetime! Winning a stage in the Giro is the best thing for an Italian rider,” he said immediately after the stage.

“And then I wanted to redeem myself after what had happened in the early stages. I beat Cavendish? I am glad, he did not believe in me ... But the only thing that counts for me is that today is a great day.”

Cavendish came out of the final turn poorly but even if he didn't win, he was able to don the red jersey for the leader in the points ranking. He had come into the stage only three points down on Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge), who was not involved in today's sprint.

A long day

The longest stage of this year's Giro, 255 km, got off to an early start, and the day's break group got an early start too. This day's group was composed of Olivier Kaisen (Lotto Belisol), Adrian Saez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Simone Ponzi (Astana), Stefan Denifl (Vacansoleil-DCM), Manuele Boaro (Saxo Bank) and Mickaël Delage (FDJ-BigMat).

The peloton kept the break in check as the escapees only had up to a five-minute gap. Ponzi fell back out of the group shortly after the feed zone leaving four riders off the front to continue with the attack.

The first climb of the day came at km 192, the Poggio alla Croce, a category three climb. Kaisen took the points and the field topped it about two minutes later. The gap then increased from 1:50 to 3:00 as the peloton was in no hurry to make the catch.

But finally Sky and Rabobank moved to the front of the field and the gap fell, hitting the one minute mark with 62km remaining, and it continued to hover around that point. With 43km to go it was down to just 30 seconds.

At about 30km to go, with the peloton breathing down the necks of the group, Boaro took off. Saez was the only one to follow, as the other three were absorbed back into the field.

The Saxo Bank rider, who had finished fourth in the opening time trial, put his talents to good use. He quickly had 30 seconds on Saez and more than a minute on the field. Saez was soon gathered in by the peloton, though, and they steadily brought the gap down.

Boaro's lead was only nine seconds as the field crossed the finish line for the first time, and moments later he was caught.

And almost immediately the last climb of the day started, the category four Vico, where Mirko Selvaggi (Vacansoleil-DCM) jumped and built up a small lead. But he, too, was caught on the climb, whilst behind them the first riders dropped off the back due to the high speed.

Giovanni Visconti of Movistar was the next to go, and the Italian champion led a four-man group over the top. They were joined by Roman Kreuziger (Astana) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) on the descent, before being caught again by the field.

Sky jumped into the lead, to keep things under control for the remaining six kilometres to the finish line. Cavendish had survived this climb as well and was tucked in comfortably near the front behind his teammates.

Alessandro Ballan (BMC) took off at the 2km marker to look for the win, but Sky wasn't about to allow that. Visconti was the next to try his luck, but with an equal lack of success.

The crash occurred on the final of the many turns in the closing kilometre, as Sacha Modolo slid out into the barriers near the very front of the field, throwing all lead-out plans to the winds. Vaitkus had been in the lead and took off for the finish line, but Ferrari easily caught and passed the Lithuanian, rejoicing wildly as he crossed the line in the lead.

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