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Manxman takes finest victory

Team High Road's Mark Cavendish, 22, took his first win in a Grand Tour

Team High Road's Mark Cavendish, 22, took his first win in a Grand Tour (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Great Britain's Mark Cavendish (Team High Road) has labeled his Giro d'Italia stage victory as his finest to date. The Manxman timed his final move perfectly and easily over-took Daniele Bennati (Liquigas), thundering to his first ever Grand Tour stage victory in Catanzaro Lungomare.

"This the biggest win of my career," said Cavendish. "To come to the Giro and win is big for any rider and it's made sweeter by the way the team worked. The only thing I could do was finish it off with a win."

Cavendish revealed the team's tactics, which saw the youngster claim the Giro stage ahead of Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner) and previous stage winner Bennati.

"I spoke to the team before the stage and said I need everybody with me before the climb," he said. "They did a perfect job to keep me at the front before the climb and then went full gas to get me back to the front."

The 22 year-old said that while a long way back, he wasn't affected by the crash which marred the finish. Cavendish also boldly claimed to be quicker than Italian rival Bennati due to his youth.

"I wasn't affected by the crash in the final kilometre but I was back in 10th place," he said. "Fortunately Tony Martin did a perfect job and took me to third. Bennati went at the right moment but I beat him because I'm younger and I'm quicker in the final 100 metres of sprints."

The victory was Cavendish's sixth of 2008 and takes his win tally to an impressive 18 since turning profession at the start of 2007. Cavendish took the cycling world by storm in 2007, amassing an incredible 11 victories in his first year which included winning the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen and stages of the Eneco Tour, Post Danmark Rundt, Quatre Jours de Dunkerque and Tour of Britain, amongst other events.

Cavendish caused such a sensation in his debut season as a professional that the T-Mobile squad drafted him into its Tour de France roster. Despite his strong form Cavendish struggled at his Grand Tour debut, but is again proving his case for Tour selection with his first Grand Tour win.

The youngster is unlikely to get another shot at Giro glory until Saturday's sprint stage, with the next few stages not suited to sprinters. Stage five is one for a long escape thanks to its rolling parcours.

Those who make it free on today's stage won't have time to enjoy seaside views as the road winds along the shore in the first 42 kilometres to Praia a Mare, and it will only get worse when the parcours turns inland for the climb of Fortino. The arrival in Contursi Terme – a first time host of a Giro finish – suits a rider like Italy's Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner).

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