CASCINA, Italy (AP) -- Matteo Pelucchi timed his sprint perfectly to win the second stage of the weeklong Tirreno-Adriatico cycling race on Thursday, and Mark Cavendish retained the overall lead.
Pelucchi edged Arnaud Demare and Andre Greipel after making his move 100 meters from the end of the 166-kilometer (103-mile) leg from San Vincenzo to Cascina for the biggest win of his career.
Cavendish finished a disappointing 17th but remains in the overall lead after he and his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team won a time trial to open the race on Wednesday.
''It's an incredible day,'' Pelucchi said. ''It's still hard to believe. I believe it's a result that comes from the whole team, who all wanted to do something important. It's thanks to them that I managed to win today.
''As we neared the finish line I said to myself I'll try. I feel good, so I'll try. And it went well.''
Five riders broke clear early on, and Daniel Teklehaymanot, Marco Canola, Alex Dowsett, David De La Cruz and Davide Malacarne swiftly built a lead of five minutes.
The peloton began to reel in the escape bunch as they approached Cascina for the first of two laps of the 20-kilometer finishing circuit, although the quintet still had a lead of over three minutes.
De La Cruz was the first to be caught as Dowsett went clear at the front of the break.
The Briton built up a lead of more than half a minute on his fellow escapees heading into the final circuit, with the peloton two minutes further back.
A crash 13 kilometers (8 miles) from the finish brought down several riders, while another one with 2.5K (1.5 miles) remaining took out Marcel Kittel, who threw his bike down in frustration.
Dowsett was caught with just under 7K (4 miles) remaining as his long solo ride was brought to an end.
Demare looked to be on course for victory but Pelucchi came off Greipel's wheel to snatch the win on the line.
The race continues Friday with the 210-kilometer (130.5 mile) third stage, from Cascina to Arezzo.