Cavendish was part of a chasing group that hauled in a five-strong breakaway in the final kilometre and the Isle of Man star won the sprint to the line for what was also his third win of this year’s Giro.
But there was bad news for Bradley Wiggins, who suffered in dismal weather conditions and surely lost his chance of overall victory when he conceded more time to leader Vincenzo Nibali. Suffering from a chest infection, Wiggins eventually finished more than three minutes behind Cavendish and the rest of the leading group including pink jersey holder Nibali.
After his miserable afternoon Wiggins plummeted to 13th place in the overall standings and is now five minutes and 22 seconds off the lead.
Wiggins had a good opportunity to keep in touch with the leaders on the short and relatively flat stag, but was plainly struggling from the start as a five-man breakaway led by Bert De Backer immediately stretched the field. Wiggins dropped off the big chasing group and, despite the best efforts of his Team Sky team-mates, proved unable to haul back enough valuable seconds.
The five-strong pace-setting group led until inside the final kilometre, when Cavendish was delivered at the front by his Omega-Pharma Quick-Step team, and just beat Nacer Bouhanni of France and Argentina’s Luka Mezgec to the line.
With all the leading riders bar Wiggins in the chasing group, Nibali maintained his 41-second overall advantage over Australian Cadel Evans, with Team Sky’s Colombian Rigoberto Uran still third, two minutes and four seconds off the pace.