The Giro d'Italia's twelfth stage was expected to be a bunch sprint, and despite a day-long breakaway from Dionisio Galparsoro (Euskaltel - Euskadi), the fast men had their day in Carpi. Anything but straightforward, the final few kilometres were a twisting, turning, technical approach that could have spelled disaster had the intermittent rains fallen at the finish, but on dry roads, Italian Daniele Bennati was able to take his third stage by a whisker ahead of High Road's Mark Cavendish.
"I thought I'd lost it but the judges told me I won it by just three centimetres," Bennati said, according to Reuters. "I've lost sprints like that in the past but this time I won it." The Liquigas rider won by a similar margin on stage nine in San Vincenzo over world champion Paolo Bettini.
"I knew I had to be first into the last corner if I wanted to win. It meant I had to do a long sprint but it was the best tactic," he continued.
Bennati stayed well hidden, allowing Cavendish's Team High Road have control until the final kilometre. "The finish was very dangerous with all the corners and it would have been treacherous if it had rained," the points leader observed. "I stayed out of trouble because I'm not an aggressive sprinter."
Bennati took the front coming into the turn, and even notably skilled bike handler Robbie McEwen seemed to back off out of concern and then have try to make up ground on the Italian. Cavendish, who was third into the turn, had enough power to get past McEwen and dive at the line forcing a photo finish. "Cavendish is a sprinter in the last 100 to 50 metres," Bennati noted. "He made a great sprint, even if I started before the last curve. According to me, he is very young and demonstrating to be the strongest sprinter in the world."
Cavendish, who won his first Giro stage on last Tuesday's sprint in Cantazaro was just millimetres from his second career stage. "The team worked really well, but Bennati had 10 metres on me out of the corner," Cavendish lamented. "A few metres after the line, I had it but that is no use."
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