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Cavendish takes stage after riders protest

  • Story Highlights
  • Mark Cavendish sprints to victory in ninth stage of Giro d'Italia around Milan
  • The success is Team Columbia's third in row and fourth in nine stages of race
  • Riders refuse to race for majority of day as a protest to the dangerous circuit
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(CNN) -- Mark Cavendish won a sprint finish to claim his first victory in this year's Giro d'Italia -- following a controversial ninth stage around the streets of Milan.

Cavendish again proves he is the fastest man in the peloton as he wins a controversial stage in Milan.

Cavendish again proves he is the fastest man in the peloton as he wins a controversial stage in Milan.

The riders spent the majority of the 165 kilometers indulging in a go-slow protest at what they felt was a dangerous city circuit.

When the pace belatedly picked up with around 30km to go it was a case of setting up the big guns for the anticipated sprint finish.

And nobody is faster in the peloton than Briton Cavendish, who once again showed his class to lead home QuickStep's Allan Davis.

Cavendish's victory also continued Team Columbia's remarkable Giro.

It was their third successive stage win, following those by Edvald Boasson Hagen and Kanstantin Siutsou and fourth in total after taking the opening team time-trial.

Meanwhile, Italian Danilo Di Luca, the 2007 rider, retains his 13-second lead in the overall standings from another Team Columbia rider, Thomas Lovkvist.

Sunday's racing saw the riders complete 10 laps of a 16km circuit around Milan -- the traditional venue of the final stage which has been moved to the capital, Rome, in recognition of the event's 100th anniversary.

Good news emerged before the stage when it was confirmed that Rabobank's Spanish rider Pedro Horrillo Munoz had come out of an induced coma after a crash on Saturday which saw him flung off his bike and down the side of a ravine.

His condition remains serious after he suffered multiple fractures and head injuries, although it is not life-threatening.

The stage got off to a cautious start around a twisting and frequently narrow circuit and it soon became apparent that the riders, spurred by Horrillo's crash, were on a go-slow in protest at what they perceived to be the dangerous nature of the course.

Organizers agreed that the times would have no impact on the general classification, while pink jersey holder Di Luca gave a protest speech after the peloton stopped on the start line around a third of the way into the race.

"We're sorry for the public but the circuit isn't safe," Di Luca said. "We don't want to risk anything."

But race director Angelo Zomegnan hit back, telling www.cyclingweekly.co.uk: "If this circuit is dangerous then the Amstel Gold Race and Ghent-Wevelgem should be cancelled too. They've betrayed the public."

The pace finally picked up around 35km from the finish with all the riders in contention for overall victory understandably dropping well back.

And Cavendish showed all the class that saw him win four stages in last year's Tour de France to burst from the pack and take victory.

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