The Manx Missile was boxed in and had little chance of catching Petacchi who clinched his 20th career Vuelta stage win in style, although there was consolation for Cavendish when his second-place finish earned him the points classification jersey.
Jorge Martin Montenegro (Andalucia-Cajasur), Martin Pedersen (Footon-Servetto), Dominik Roels (Team Milram) and Vladimir Isaichev (Xacobeo Galicia) led for much of the 187-kilometre stage but were caught with five kilometres to go.
Belgium’s Phillipe Gilbert of Pharma-Lotto finished 10th in the same time to keep the leader’s red jersey and a 10-second lead over Spanish duo Joaquin Rodriguez (13/2 Vuelta espana 2010 – To Win Outright with Bet365) and Igor Anton (4/1).
Vincenzo Nibali (21/10) of the Italian Liquigas squad lies 12 seconds off the lead in fourth place while Frank Schleck (5/1) is 50 seconds behind and Russian star Denis Menchov (5/1), a previous winner, is 1 minute and 11 seconds back.
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