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HERNING, Denmark (VN) — Reigning world champion Mark Cavendish (Sky) was happy to get a stage win under his belt in Sunday’s second stage at the Giro d’Italia, but he’s fuming about what he called a “lack of respect” in the peloton.
Cavendish did not specify what was wrangling him, but a tense stage pocked with crashes, including a costly fall with 500 meters to go in Cavendish’s wake seemed to rattle his nerves.
“Things are changing in the peloton,” Cavendish said. “There’s not the respect there used to be and that means there are a lot more crashes.”
Cavendish suggested that too many teams and riders are trying to squeeze onto the narrow roadway. Sunday’s road stage left everyone on edge, including Cavendish, who said the peloton would be better off if riders learned their place.
“Teams are all trying to stay at the front. It causes more stress than if it’s just left to the sprinter teams on the sprint days,” he said. “Especially when there’s a lot of wind, that just heightens it. It was nervous out there. Every single kilometer of every single day is now just stressful. Stressful, stressful, stressful.”
Cavendish said it wasn’t young riders who didn’t know their place, but suggested it was more experienced riders who try to muscle in on his turf.
“I have been a student of the sport. Things are changing in the sport as a whole. I am not sitting here saying we have to go back. I am not saying if it’s right or wrong, there is just less respect in the peloton,” he said. “I am just saying there isn’t the same respect there used to be. It’s the junior riders who show respect. It’s the older riders (who do not).”
Honor for Weylandt
The Giro d’Italia will pay a special honor before Monday’s stage to Wouter Weylandt, the popular Belgian rider who died tragically in a crash in stage 3 of last year’s race.
The Belgian won stage 3 in the 2010 edition and died on impact after crashing heavily on the descent off Passo del Bocco last year. His death shook the peloton and the following day’s stage was neutralized in part to pay homage to Weylandt.
Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) said he retains a special place among the active riders in the peloton.
“He was a nice guy, always smiling,” Cavendish said. “What happened last year was tragic. It brings goose bumps to me. For sure, he will be remembered fondly tomorrow.”
The race organization has since retired Weylandt’s bib number 108. In this year’s Giro, Orica-GreenEdge rides with that series, with 107 going to Svein Tuft and 109 going to Tomas Vaitkus.
Race officials have invited Weylandt’s family to come to Horsens to remember the fallen rider’s legacy.
The stage Monday will start with a minute’s silence before the stage and Weylandt’s favorite song — “Sex on Fire” by Kings of Leon — will be broadcast on race loudspeakers.
Riders from RadioShack-Nissan, which was created from last year’s Leopard-Trek team, will line up first at the start of the stage. The winner’s prize money will be later awarded to Weylandt’s family.
Phinney keeps growing
If Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) looks taller than he was last year, he is.
“From December 2010 to December 2011, I grew one inch,” Phinney told VeloNews. “I hope to get through a bike season without growing anymore.”
Phinney’s growth spurt is also reflected in the BMC press materials and he is listed as 6-foot-5, making him among the tallest riders in the bunch.
BMC Racing sport director Max Sciandri said that Phinney’s build would place obvious limits on his progression in the grand tours.
“He will never be able to be a climber for the high mountains simply because of his body type,” Sciandri told VeloNews. “Otherwise, the sky’s the limit. He can ride the classics, he can ride time trials and can even sprint out of a small group. I can see him being able to win week-long stage races.”
That makes bike fitting tricky as well.
Stage winner: Mark Cavendish (Sky) is the first world champion to win a Giro stage since Cadel Evans in 2010; eighth career Giro stage win
Pink GC: Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) retained a nine-second lead despite crashing with 8km to go
Red points: Cavendish takes lead, 28 points to 26 to Geraint Thomas (Sky)
Blue climber: Alfredo Balloni (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) won the day’s lone climb; no climbs for Monday, so he will carry KOM jersey to Italy
White young: Phinney kept a 15-second lead to Manuele Boaro (Saxo Bank).
Team GC: Garmin-Barracuda keeps lead
Weather: More wind
Forecasters are calling for partly cloudy skies, a 20 percent chance of afternoon showers, highs in the low 50s, with light northwestern winds of 10-15kph.
Tomorrow’s stage: Another shot for sprinters
The 95th Giro continues Monday with the third and final stage in Denmark with the 190km flat stage starting and finishing in Horsens. The route loops in and out of Horsens and is slightly bumpier than Sunday’s flatter stage, but there are no rated climbs.
The stage finishes with three laps on a 14.6km circuit in downtown Horsens. There are a series of technical corners between 7km and 5km to go, but otherwise the run-in is fairly straight to the line, with the final sweeping left-hander coming with 2km to go. From there, it’s dead straight to the line for another likely mass gallop.