(CNN) -- Alessandro Petacchi drew first blood in his sprint showdown with Mark Cavendish to win the second stage of the Giro d'Italia in Trieste on Sunday.
Petacchi celebrates his victory ahead of Cavendish (far right) in pink.
Petacchi, who has returned to the peloton with LPR Brakes after serving a one-year doping ban, was winning his 20th stage on the Giro.
Cavendish remains in the race leader's pink jersey after his Team Columbia High Road squad claimed the opening team time trial stage, but was bitterly disappointed to miss out on the stage win.
Given the perfect lead out by teammate Mark Renshaw, the young Briton looked set to claim his third individual Giro stage triumph until Petacchi came blasting past.
Cavendish was taken by surprise and could make little impression on Petacchi's lead as the veteran Italian took line honors by a bike length.
Another British rider, Ben Swift, occupied the final place on the podium while Lance Armstrong finished safely in the main bunch in the same time as the winner.
But race favorite Ivan Basso and Armstrong's Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer each finished 13 seconds behind after the bunch was split by a crash with five kilometers remaining.
It was an emotional win for the 35-year-old Petacchi, who was involved in a protracted legal battle after giving a positive test for the asthma drug Salbutamol in 2007, eventually being sacked by Team Milram.
The first stage over 156-kilometers saw the riders go from Venice Beach at Jesolo to Trieste where they completed several circuits of the city center before the bunch sprint.
Cavendish carries a 14-second lead over teammate Renshaw into Monday's third stage from Grado to Valdobbiadene over 198 kilometers.
It will be one last opportunity for the sprinters to claim stage victories before the three-week race hits its first batch of mountains.