Cav’ crushes at Catalunya

HTC-Columbia speedster Mark Cavendish sprints to victory in stage 2 of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya.

Agence France Presse

Britain’s Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) announced a return to the kind of spectacular form he displayed last year when he powered his way to victory in the second stage of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya on Tuesday.

Germany’s Paul Voss (Milram), who finished 24th with the same time as Cavendish, remains the overall leader after winning Monday’s time trial. RadioShack teammates Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden sit second and third and one and two seconds back, respectively.

One of the favorites, last year’s Tour de France runner-up Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), was forced to skip Tuesday’s stage with stomach problems. He is expected to return to the event on Wednesday, but is now out of contention.

Cavendish covered the 182.6km between Salt and Banyoles in northeastern Spain in four hours, 15 minutes and 46 seconds, edging Argentina’s Juan Jose Haedo (Saxo) and Spain’s Aitor Galdos (Euskatel-Euskadi) to the line in a mass sprint finish.

The 24-year-old from the Isle of Man last year became the first Tour de France competitor in the postwar era to win six stages from a sprint in one edition of the event.

But a late start to competition this year, due mainly to dental problems, appeared to have left him short of full fitness. On Saturday, he finished a dismal 89th in Milan-SanRemo, an event he won in 2009.

Tuesday’s win was his first stage victory since he competed in the Tour of Missouri in September.