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Sagan Still Without a Win

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Mar 12, 2015 – Belgian champion Jens Debusschere outsprinted Slovakian Peter Sagan as Mark Cavendish narrowly avoided a crash in the finale of the 153km second stage of Tirreno-Adriatico from Camaiore to Cascina on Thursday.

AFP/EQS/Yuzuru Sunada

Debusschere, of the Lotto-Belisol team, powered to victory in just over three-and-a-half hours after keeping ahead of a crash in the home straight which notably took down Sky’s Italian Elia Viviani and took British sprint king Cavendish out of victory contention.

Italian Adriano Malori, who won the opening stage time-trial on Wednesday, retained the overall race lead with Sagan now in second place on the same time, thanks to a finishing bonus, with Swiss Fabian Cancellara third, one second behind. The overall race favourites, Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana, avoided the carnage and kept their powder dry, notably for the uphill finish on stage three as well as a much hillier stage four on Saturday.

A day after beating Cancellara by just one second to win the opening stage time-trial over 5.4km, Malori’s race lead was never really in danger with the sprinters and their teams keen to set up a bunch finish on the home straight of Cascina. A seven-man breakaway was allowed to form early on, but it was kept on a relatively tight rein as the bunch raced over mainly flat terrain towards the Tuscan town, about 60km west of Florence.

The last three riders were reeled in with 15km to race, setting up an ideal scenario for a classic bunch sprint to the finish line. But after a first crash, 11.5km out from the finish, took down several riders including Yaroslav Popovych and Canadian Svein Tuft, disaster struck in the final 200 meters.

The victory hopes of Viviani and Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) were ended when the pair crossed wheels. Viviani came crashing down, splaying several riders across the road, and Cavendish slowed down to effectively take himself out of victory contention.

Team Sky sports director Dario Cioni told the website: “Elia took a big bang at the end there and has lost a lot of skin. It was encouraging to see him able to finish the stage though, and they are running some x-rays on him to make sure there are no broken bones.”

Debusschere powered up the middle to beat Sagan by a bike’s length with Ireland’s Sam Bennett taking third ahead of Russian Alexander Porsev and American Tyler Farrar. The Belgian, who won the national title last year, said: “I think after the Belgian championships, this is the nicest victory in my career.”

Check back soon for a full photo gallery. And, if you aren’t up to speed on the race, or France’s Paris-Nice, click the underlined text to catch up.

Watch the Final 10kms of Stage 2

“Everything was perfect,” said Mark Cavendish of Etixx-Quick-Step. “I was in good position to launch my sprint. But when I tried to go, my chain dropped off from the big chainring to the right, and the momentum from the sudden loss of torque caused me to move right. There’s nothing I could have done to avoid it, and it’s a miracle I didn’t crash. I watched the sprint after the stage in the team bus. I feel sorry for Elia Viviani who went down behind me, and the other guys involved. Hopefully it’s nothing serious.”

A big pileup taking several riders down in the sprint

Results Stage 2

1. Jens Debusschere (BEL) Lotto-Belisol 3hr 30min 18sec
2. Peter Sagan (SVK) same time
3. Sam Bennett (IRL) s.t.
4. Alexander Porsev (RUS) s.t.
5. Tyler Farrar (USA) s.t.
6. Magnus Cort Nielsen (DEN) s.t.
7. Roger Kluge (GER) s.t.
8. Nicola Ruffoni (ITA) s.t.
9. Zakkari Dempster (AUS) s.t.
10. Mark Renshaw (AUS) s.t.

General Classification

1. Adriano Malori (ITA) Movistar 3hr 36min 22sec
2. Peter Sagan (SVK) same time
3. Fabian Cancellara (SUI) at 01sec
4. Greg van Avermaet (BEL) 2
5. Matthias Brandle (AUT) s.t.
6. Maciej Bodnar (POL) s.t.
7. Daniel Oss (ITA) 4
8. Ramunas Navardauskas (LTU) 5
9. Steven Cummings (GBR) 6
9. Peter Sagan (SVK) s.t.
10. Martijn Keizer (NED) 7