Two events dominated the second stage of the 2011 Giro d'Italia, a long solo breakaway by Omega Pharma-Lotto's Sebastian Lang and the final sprint stoush between eventual winner Alessandro Pettachi and new race leader Mark Cavendish.
First up was the days marathon man Lang, who chose the longest stage of this years Giro to make his mark - leaving the comfort of a relaxed peloton after only three kilometres and building a lead that maxed out at 19 minutes and 20 seconds before he started to run out of gas.
With no hope of victory, the mission for Lang became an unusual one for a rider more known for his time trialling prowess than talents in the mountains - claiming the climbers jersey on what was an almost totally flat stage.
Lang was caught with 26 kilometres to go, but the powerful German held on long enough to roll over the only climb of the day before succumbing to fatigue and the peloton.
The finish was a different story, with the 37 year-old veteran Petaccahi and 25 year-old Cavendish clearly the fastest of the fast.
With their careers at bookends it was the elder Pettachi who came out on top, but not before being accused of unfair tactics by a wounded Cavendish, who immediately appealed to the race judges.
Fellow sprinters Robbie McEwen and Robbie Hunter, both of RadioShack, had a birds eye view of the action up front, with both riders judging Petacchi's line to victory a clean one.
Alessandro Petacchi - Lampre ISD.
“I’m very happy because I gave value to the support that my team mates granted me during the stage," Petacchi said to the Lampre website. "Righi and Hondo were fundamental in the finale meters, then I chose a side of the road and I thought only to give my best: I don’t think I damaged anyone. Cavendish was not happy after the arrival, but then we clarified the situation and we could celebrate together. Mark for the pink jersey and I for the victory."
Mark Cavendish (Via Twitter) - HTC-Highroad.
"Phew, calmed down now. I'm always disqualified for every little move, but this is not Petacchi's fault. It's the fault of the jury or teams who have a prejudice against me. So I'm sorry to Pettachi for taking my frustration out on him. What happened today is sprinting.....and that's why I love it. It's about tactics as well as power. Lets bring back old school sprinting! Congrats to a great champion today."
Robbie McEwen (Via Twitter) - RadioShack
"The boys did a great job, bad luck to Robbie Hunter [who] got blocked when trying to launch me. Was 8th. Congrats to Ale Petacchi, clean win. To the experts - watched replay of today's sprint and found nothing wrong with it. Nothing personal just calling like I see it, tomorrow is another day."
Robbie Hunter (Via Twitter) - RadioShack
"Ok so that was a fast day. We rode for McEwen, pity we got caught up [with] 400 to go in traffic pulling off, if not we were coming good - Good job by Petacchi, nothing wrong with his sprint. Some people just don't know how to lose. If Cav had of gone a bit earlier he would have won but he didn't and that's racing. He obviously got the kick in final meters and he got pink."
Wouter Weylandt - Leopard Trek
“It was incredibly hectic in the end. I need to thank my teammates for helping me get in good position. It was chaotic, so it was tough to stay together. The last two corners before the finish were difficult. I lost some places there that I had to make up in the end, and I wasted a little bit of energy doing that. The result is not so bad, I guess. It’s my first sprint after my huge crash at Scheldeprijs, so I have to find my rhythm and nerves again.”
Alexander Kristoff - BMC
"...with two kilometers to go, I got swarmed and had to use a lot of energy to get back. My sprint was OK, but I was just too far back and really at my limit at the end."
Francesco Chicchi - Quick Step
"I was on the right wheel, Petacchi's, but another rider bumped me and in order not to fall I lost some important positions. So I missed a good chance. Today I felt like I could bust a good sprint. However I'd like to thank the team for doing an excellent job. They believed in me and I hope I can give them some rewards in the near future."