Blazin' Saddles

Cav turns a corner

Blazin' Saddles

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He may be dating a Page Three glamour model, but sometimes things don't go Mark Cavendish's way.

Many people would have watched the closing moments of Sunday's stage two and thought that Cavendish's outburst following Alessandro Petacchi's narrow win was the latest petulant outburst in a short career which has seen Cav two-finger, mouth off and snarl his way to the top.

Except that he was entirely justified this time. Petacchi clearly veered into Cavendish's path on two occasions in the Parma finale, making a ham-fisted attempt at fair sprinting.

Had the Sidi cycling shoe been on the other foot, so to speak, and it were Cav, and not Alejet, who kept a line as straight as Graham Norton, then surely the Italian officials would have thrown the book at the dastardly Manxman and elevated their compatriot to the top of the podium.

Look at what happened a couple of years ago during the Tour with the much publicised Thor Hushovd incident, an unjust decision which cost Cavendish the green jersey in Paris.

If Cavendish's sprinting was deemed irregular when he was disqualified in favour of the Big Norwegian, then Petacchi's effort on Sunday was as irregular as the French verb 'etre' - or one's toilet habits after a gluten-heavy diet.

Still, Cavendish proved that he's learnt a lot since that last incident. Instead of perpetuating the controversy, Cavendish, once he had calmed down, simply let it pass.

After a tender kiss with his girlfriend - who boasts a chest bigger than your average pirate - and a reflection on his new pink jersey as race leader, Cavendish simply shrug his shoulders, put up his hands, admitted (through gritted veneered teeth) that he was in the wrong, and claimed that Petacchi was a worthy winner.

He did this in front of an Italian TV crew and while speaking pretty decent Italian. And he even had the gumption to shake his rival's hand and produce a smile.

Later, on Twitter, Cavendish summarised the situation with a touch of class: "Phew, calmed down now. I'm always disqualified for every little move, but this is not Petacchi's fault. It's the fault of the jury or teams who have a prejudice against me.

"So I'm sorry to Petacchi for taking my frustration out on him. What happened today is sprinting and that's why I love it. It's about tactics as well as power. Let's bring back old school sprinting! Congrats to a great champion today."

Has the enfant terrible of the peloton finally grown up? Chapeau, Cav - or as they may say in Rome, capello.

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