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Cavendish delays birthday celebrations

High Road's Mark Cavendish (r) came close to beat Bennati, but the champagne will have to wait for at least another day.

High Road's Mark Cavendish (r) came close to beat Bennati, but the champagne will have to wait for at least another day. (Image credit: AFP)

By Gregor Brown in Carpi

Mark Cavendish, winner of stage four in the 91st Giro d'Italia, has decided to delay his birthday celebrations, hoping that another sprint victory will come in Italy's three-week race. The Manxman of Team High Road, who turned 23 years old on Wednesday, fell just short of overcoming Italy's Daniele Bennati in the sprint finish in Carpi, a day after his birthday.

"I am actually 23, my UCI code is wrong, it says '86 but I was born in '85," he said to Cyclingnews after the announcer stated his age in the presentation before the stage. He noted that he did not party with his fellow team-mates of the USA team, opting to save victory until the win arrives.

"I think we are trying to save the celebrations for tonight. Hopefully, I can celebrate with something tonight." Cavendish barely missed out on a big bottle of champagne, he was third wheel behind Bennati and Robbie McEwen going into the final turn at 200 metres and was a unable to close the gap as the former re-accelerated.

Only hours earlier he noted the stage finale suited his characteristics. "For me it is good," explained Cavendish. "I know it well, so hopefully we can come away with a win." He has been studying the few sprint stages in detail, hoping a second chance will arise. "I know the stage well," he added, regarding Friday's stage to Cittadella. "Plus there will be a circuit, so I will be able to see it again tomorrow. The sprints have been few and far between this year so we have to study each sprint finish carefully, so I know it very well."

If the win comes Friday, he may not continue through the high mountains, preferring to focus on the Tour de France in July. "If we get another win then maybe it is not important to carry on. ... Then my chances of going to the Tour are greater, so then maybe it would be better to rest for the Tour. We will see."

Cavendish is enjoying his first participation in the Giro d'Italia, which has been 'relaxed.' "It is a lot more relaxed than the Tour – not the racing – but everything around it, which is nice for a three-week tour. Unfortunately, the weather has not been great for us, but it is a nice race."

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