PARMA, Italy, May 8, 2011 (AFP) - Italian sprint ace Alessandro Petacchi of the Lampre team won the second stage of the Tour of Italy here on Sunday ahead of British star Mark Cavendish who took the leader's pink jersey.
Petacchi just edged HTC rider Cavendish in a battle for the finish line, in a victory which was only confirmed by the jury after viewing video footage.
The 37-year-old Petacchi had launched his sprint 225 metres from the line. His British rival tried to overtake on the right before being forced to try on the left after the Italian slightly changed his direction. Italy's Manuel Belletti finished third after the longest stage, raced under blazing sunshine over 244km.
"Other sprinters, not only me, would have blocked him (Cavendish). If I changed direction I didn't realise it. I'm sorry," said the Italian amid protests from Cavendish.
Germany's Sebastian Lang had led for most of the race holding a 19-minute advantage after 82km. But the former German time-trial champion was caught 26km from the line.
It was the 22nd Giro success for Petacchi, whose five wins in the 2007 race were scrapped after a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) following a positive test for salbutamol.
Petacchi won two stages last year and the green jersey for the points standings.
His previous Giro success was in 2009 when he also beat Cavendish in the opening sprint. Cavendish then went on to win three stages and dominated the sprint in the subsequent Tour de France with six wins.
In the very mountainous Giro, Cavendish knows however that his chances are few.
"There are five stages which can end in a sprint," he calculated.
In the overall standings 25-year-old Cavendish, who also wore the leader's pink jersey in 2009, takes top spot from Italian teammate Marco Pinotto.
Monday's third stage, a 173km ride between Reggio Emilia and Rapallo, looks more complicated for the sprinters in the final 50km, before another opportunity will present itself on Tuesday at Livorno on the western coast of Italy.
Stage 2 Provisional results:
1. Alessandro Petacchi (ITA) Lampre 5hr 45min 40sec (average: 42.352 kmh)
2. Mark Cavendish (GBR) HTC same time
3. Manuel Belletti (ITA) COG s.t.
4. Robeto Ferrari (ITA) AND s.t.
5. Borut Bozic (SLO) VAC s.t.
6. Davide Appollonio (ITA) SKY s.t.
7. Tyler Farrar (USA) GRM s.t.
8. Robbie McEwen (AUS) RSH s.t.
9. Matteo Montaguti (ITA) ALM s.t.
10. Alexander Kristoff (NOR) BMC s.t.
Selected: 17. Michele Scarponi (ITA) LAM s.t.
18. Christophe Le Mevel (FRA) GRM s.t.
25. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) LIQ s.t.
29. Alberto Contador (ESP) SAX s.t.