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/ 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

Overall standings:

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