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.

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

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.