Stage 11: Assisi - Montecatini-Terme 243km
16 May 2012
Report: Team Sky
Mark Cavendish took fourth in a hectic finish to stage 11 at the Giro d'Italia to move back into the red points jersey.
The world champion was shepherded over the decisive fourth category climb by his Team Sky team-mates and was brought into a tough finish in Montecatini Terme in a strong position.
A tight final corner saw the bunch stretched and allowed Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) the space to chip clear and claim victory.
The Italian was followed home by compatriot Francesco Chicchi (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) and Tomas Vaitkus (Orica-GreenEDGE) while Cavendish, distanced in the final metres, held on for fourth.
The result, while not the one the Manxman was after, finally elevated him back into the red jersey after the sprinter had fought to amass points where he could in previous days.
A crash in the tight final corner saw large sections of the peloton halted but the bunch sprint ensured overnight leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) was able to hold on to the maglia rosa.
The longest stage of the race departed from the picturesque Assisi with five riders chipping clear shortly into the 255km route.
In an exact mirror image of stage 10 the leaders were given a relatively slender advantage of four minutes and 50 seconds, a manageable gap which allowed the peloton to roll along at a leisurely pace for large portions of the day.
Team Sky arrived on the front to keep Cavendish to the fore over the third category Poggio alla Croce while Jeremy Hunt worked superbly hard for the cause during the day working in tandem with Rabobank on the front.
All eyes were on the final climb at Vico and sure enough attacks fired off the front, among them significant contenders in the shape of Roman Kreuziger (Astana) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD).
Despite the pace shooting up, Team Sky were able to bring Cavendish into a strong position as things came back together, driving hard on the front in a bid to set up the sprinter.
Both present in the lead-out, Colombian pairing Rigoberto Urán (10th, +1:10) and Sergio Henao (13th, +1:27) maintained their strong overall positions on the day.
After the stage Sports Director Steven de Jongh admitted that the stage had gone perfectly to plan until the final corner.
He said: “The stage came down to small margins in the final. The team worked really well to stick with Mark on the climb. Things went according to plan and we had relatively easy control on the bunch coming into the finish.
“The guys just went into the final corner a bit hot and Mark was forced to check up and after that there was no chance for the win.
“The break were within reach during the day and Jeremy Hunt did a hell of a job on the front for the team to bring that back. In the end Mark was disappointed and wanted to win this stage only 15 kilometres from his house.”
1 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Androni Giocattoli 6:49:05
2 Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
3 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
4 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling
13 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling
26 Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Sky Procycling
94 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling
187 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Sky Procycling
General classification after stage 11
1 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team
2 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:17
3 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:32
120 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling
122 Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Sky Procycling
137 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling
161 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling
188 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Sky Procycling