Cavendish shrugs off claims to take Giro stage

Updated: May 18, 2011, 10:10 AM IST

Teramo: British sprint ace Mark Cavendish won the 10th stage of the Tour of Italy, a 159km ride from Termoli, just hours after he was accused of cheating by two of his rivals.

Cavendish edged out fellow sprint specialists Francisco Ventoso and Alessandro Petacchi - Spain`s controversial three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador retained the leader`s pink jersey.

Cavendish would have been especially delighted to have edged out Ventoso, who was one of the two riders who earlier on Tuesday accused him of being towed up Mount Etna in Sunday`s stage.

Cavendish arrived just 25 seconds inside the stage cut-off point, which had he missed would have meant the end of his participation in the race, but the Isle of Man-born rider shrugged off the accusations.

"Ventoso`s accusations? I acknowledge that there are personal issues between him and myself," said Cavendish, who turns 26 on Saturday.

"Its always the same story. When I scrape inside the deadline, there is always someone around to say that I cheat.”

"I would like to throw down the gauntlet to Ventoso: that he rides alongside me throughout a stage and that he observes that no matter what happens, whether I have a puncture, a fall or even if a village orchestra blocks my way, I have a race steward and a television camera behind me.”

"On Sunday, there were four of us from the HTC team and two other riders. We pedalled as if our lives depended on it. There is a lot of jealousy directed towards me. But it is always the same for those who are at the top, in business as well as sport."

Contador for his part was fined 1000 Swiss francs (around 800 euros) for not attending the post stage press conference and he later admitted that he found the obligation for the overall leader to go to the press conference hindered his rest time.

"It is always good to be in the pink jersey but it also imposes obligations on you after the stage," said the 28-year-old.

"It is a burden because it gives me an hour-and-a-half less of rest time each day.

"After 10 stages, that is a lot of time lost in comparison to my adversaries. Tomorrow (Wednesday)? It will be a very difficult stage, like a one day classic race.

"There are a lot of possibilities to make a break, we are going to have to be vigilant in respect of the riders with a chance of winning the race."

Wednesday`s stage is the 160km ride from Tortoreto Lido to Castelfidardo.

Bureau Report