The fact that Alessandro Petacchi beat Mark Cavendish in the first bunch sprint of the Giro made it interesting. It also put Cav under a bit of pressure during the first couple of weeks to win some stages and show he was the boss.
Whether or not you feel Ale Jet was sprinting unaided or not is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. The old master had beaten the heir apparent and Cavendish needed to put things right.
He did so in Milan, but the neutralised stage was clearly diluted. The fact he stuck around as the terrain got tougher and bagged another couple of wins shows the depth of the man's class.
You don’t need to search too deeply into the internet forums around to see that, for a UK athlete, Mark Cavendish divides opinion. Much the same way as David Millar has done so since his return from an EPO ban. Some people think that Millar was only doing what he needed to do to be competitive and has learned his lesson. Others will never forgive a Brit for taking dope and feel uneasy about his presence in the peloton.
Cavendish is divisive for a different reason altogether. He is that rare thing in a British sportsman. Confident. Most mistake it as arrogance or cockiness, but generally when he says he will do his best to win something he delivers. For me the fact that after races he is still humble enough to thank his team and Bob Stapleton shows me that he isn’t being half of the things that Filippo Pozzato accused him of (but has at least softened his stance on in recent interviews).
He is a successful sportsman with the confidence to go out expecting to win races. And he is one of ours.