Mark Pinotti began the second stage of the Giro d’Italia in the pink jersey after HTC-Highroad dominated the team time trial in Turin but is the Italian ready and willing to hand it to teammate Mark Cavendish if he can produce a good sprint at the end of the 244km stage from Alba to Parma.
Cavendish finished the team time trial in the same time as Pinotti and so would only have to finish a few places ahead of the Italian to take the pink jersey. However with time bonuses of 20, 12 and 8 seconds awarded on the finish line, a place in the top three would give Cavendish the pink jersey by several seconds and allow him to keep it for several days.
Cavendish wore the pink jersey in 2009 after crossing the line first in the Venice Lido team time trial but then lost the first sprint and the jersey in Trieste to Alessandro Petacchi. He would like to pull on the pink jersey again but first of all wants to win a stage, especially with so few of this year’s Giro stages suited to the sprinters.
“For me the sprints are important. There are five sprints in this Giro and Parma is the first. For me and for the team it’s important for me to win,” Cavendish told Gazzetta dello Sport after the team time trial.
The finale of Sunday’s stage to Parma includes a short climb to Tabiano Castello but that comes 34km from the finish and so is unlikely to split the peloton and see any sprinters distanced.
Technical finish in Parma
The finish into Parma is on the long straight main road, with only a few roundabouts to navigate in the run-in. However it is a technical finish, where a lead out will be important, because of a sharp right turn exactly a kilometre from the finish and then another dog-leg turn right turn with 600 metres to go. Position will be vital, as will a strong, sustained burst of speed for the finishing straight.
Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) showed his form at the recent Presidential Tour of Turkey and is likely to be Cavendish’s biggest threat. Other Italians to watch for include Francesco Chicchi (Quick Step), Manuel Belletti and Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF), Davide Appollonio (Team Sky) and Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil).
Petacchi is 24 seconds behind Cavendish in the overall classification and so in theory out of reach of the pink jersey. However Robbie McEwen is just ten seconds down and so in with a real chance of taking pink, after RadioShack finished second in the team time trial.
Other big sprinters who could be a threat include Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo), Wouter Weylandt (Leopard Trek), Adam Blyth (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Gerald Ciolek (Quick Step) and Jonny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil).
If McEwen wins the stage and Cavendish finishes lower than third, and so out of the time bonuses, the veteran Australian will take the pink jersey for the second time in his career. He also wore it for two days in 2005.
However HTC-Highroad directeur sportif Valerio Piva is hoping to hold onto the jersey at least for another day.
“It was a dream to win the team time trial and now we’ve got a chance to win a gain and perhaps change the man in pink at the same time,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport. “We’ll try and keep the race together to set up Mark for the sprint but there are other sprinters who are good too. It’ll be a good fight for the stage win and for the pink jersey.”