Mark Cavendish avoids crash to retain Tirreno-Adriatico lead
Mark Cavendish retained the overall lead of the Tirreno-Adriatico race in Italy after narrowly avoiding a crash in the closing moments of stage two.
The Manx rider was close behind Marcel Kittel when the German hit the deck with just two kilometres remaining.
Cavendish said: "You saw more than me. I was behind Kittel when he crashed at a narrow little roundabout."
Italian Matteo Pelucchi won the 166km stage from San Vincenzo to Cascina.
Cavendish held enough of a lead from the team time-trial on Wednesday to stay in possession of the leader's blue jersey despite Kittel's crash blocking the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider from competing in the sprint. Cavendish eventually came in 17th.
"The peloton split because of it," Cavendish added. "Some gentlemen in the peloton gave me a hand to move up but I got to the front with 500 metres to go, before the sprint even started, and I was already on the limit."
Kittel was fortunate to avoid serious injury in the high-speed crash, but the Giant Shimano rider showed his anger after jumping to his feet by angrily tossing his bike to the ground then collapsing back in a heap at the side of the road.
Stage 2 result:
1. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita/IAM Cycling)3:56:12"
2. Arnaud Demare (Fra/FDJ.fr) same time
3. André Greipel (Ger/Lotto Belisol) same time
4. Sam Bennett (Irl/Team NetApp-Endura) same time
5. Peter Sagan (Svk/Cannondale) same time
1. Mark Cavendish (GB/Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) 4:16:25"
2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol/Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) same time
3. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col/Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) same time
4. Mark Renshaw (Aus/Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) same time
5. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita/Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) same time