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Sunday, May 7, 2006
McEwen wins second stage; Savoldelli leads


CHARLEROI, Belgium -- Australia's Robbie McEwen used his childhood BMX skills and fast finish to win the second stage of the Giro d'Italia on Sunday.

Robbie McEwen
McEwen kissed the competition goodbye in Sunday's second stage.

The Davitamon rider beat Germany's Olaf Pollack and Italian Paolo Bettini to the line after jumping around sprint rival Alessandro Petacchi in the final 100 meters of the 197-km stage from Mons to Charleroi.

Italy's defending champion Paolo Savoldelli retained the overall race lead after finishing 16th in the same time as McEwen.

Savoldelli, who also won the Giro in 2002, is 11 seconds ahead of Australia's Bradley McGee in the standings.

The sprint was led out by Petacchi's Milram team but he struggled to match McEwen's change of pace on the slightly uphill finish and finished fourth.

"Petacchi saw I was on his wheel and so hesitated in the final 200 meters," McEwen told reporters.

"Pollack launched the sprint. I was worried about being blocked in and so jumped on his wheel. We went past Petacchi and then I squeezed past Pollack close to the barriers and opened up my sprint.

"I won because of my boyhood BMX riding and my 11 years of experience as a professional.

"I make the right decision in eight out of 10 sprints like this one. Of course you still need good legs to win," the 33-year-old added.

It was McEwen's seventh win of 2006 and the 124th of his career. He won four races in February but a broken rib in March meant he was unable to race for most April.

"I showed I'd recovered by winning a stage in Romandie last week and this win puts me back on right track for the rest of the season," he said.

The Giro continues on Monday with the 202-km third stage from Perwez to Namur.

After the opening four stages in Belgium, the Giro transfers to Italy on Wednesday and ends in Milan on May 28.