On day 10 of the 2011 Giro d’Italia, Mark Cavendish had not yet won a stage, unusual to say the least. The Briton was the leading sprinter of the peloton in those years (and he had been for a long time), but in 2011 his season had a slightly slower start than in the previous three years, when he had collected a haul of 17 victories in 2008, 22 in 2009 and 11 in 2010.
Until the Giro, he had only won two races and, at the Corsa Rosa, he had only managed to sprint on the second day, in Parma, but was beaten by Alessandro Petacchi. Thus, in the 159-kilometre Termoli-Teramo, Cannon Ball, at the time in HTC Highroad jersey, was the most eagerly awaited rider, the one who had to give some signal to the fans and team. And boy he did! In Teramo, Cavendish unleashed one of his trademark sprints, the rivals never had a chance that day.
The last few kilometres were controlled by the QuickStep men, but future Milan-Sanremo winner Gerald Ciolek mistimed the lead-out for teammate Francesco Chicchi, at which point Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) tried to outfox everyone, but Cavendish was quick to take his wheel and jump clear in the final 50 metres. Second place was taken by Francisco Ventoso (Movistar), while Petacchi had to settle for third. The Maglia Rosa was Alberto Contador, who had blasted off on the slopes of Mount Etna the day before.
For Cavendish, that was the sixth victory on the roads of the Giro d’Italia. To date he has 16, the last one last year in Balatonfüred, Hungary.