Giro d’Italia stage one: Mark Cavendish wins small group sprint over Viviani
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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Giro d’Italia stage one: Mark Cavendish wins small group sprint over Viviani

by Kyle Moore at 11:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Race Reports and Results
A tight run-in causes a crash and field split; Cav tops Viviani and five others

Giro dMark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) zips up the first Maglia Rosa after sprinting to victory in stage one of the Giro d’Italia, winning by nearly a bike length ahead of Elia Viviani (Cannondale). Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) sprinted to third out of a reduced main bunch, which was severed by a crash on a tight right-hand bend with around two kilometres to the line.

Cavendish had to close a gap under the final kilometre banner, after his lead-out man Gert Steegmans suffered mechanical trouble and had no room against the barrier to swing off. He inadvertently held up his sprinter, and Cavendish had to accelerate to catch back up to a trio of Orica-GreenEdge riders, as well as Viviani. But the Manx Missile kept his cool and unleashed a timely kick, pipping a frustrated Viviani, while Bouhanni came up from behind for third.

The crash with two kilometres to go had split off a group of about 16 men on the front, including the Orica-GreenEdge sprint train marshaled by Matt Goss, Viviani, Steegmans and Cavendish, Bouhanni, Adam Blythe (BMC Racing), and the Radioshack-Leopard sprinting duo of Danilo Hondo and Giacomo Nizzolo. The sprinters sorted out the top placings with their lead-out men completing the rest of the top ten.

There were hints of relief and satisfaction in Cavendish’s voice speaking with reporters at the finish.

“It was a difficult stage for me. It was not an easy stage with all the corners, and you needed to accelerate like a crit rider. The team did an incredible thing to stay at the front,” he stated. “We didn’t get it right towards the end, again we had mechanical problems in the final kilometres. It has happened too many times this year, we need to get that right. It meant I had to work hard to get back up there.

“I was in the red for most of that. It was really, really hard. I wanted it so bad. My good friend Paul Smith is here, he did the jersey and I promised him I’d take it.

“The Classics didn’t go as planned for the team, I wanted to start getting things right.”

Good riddance, winter! Warmth and sun greets riders in Naples:

Naples played host to the start and finish of stage one, a traditional road stage as opposed to a prologue or full stage time trial. At just 130 kilometres in length, the cycling world was treated to the entire stage on their television sets. Cameras caught Cameron Wurf (Cannondale) as the first attacker of the Giro d’Italia, and the Australian on the Italian team moved off as soon as the flag dropped. He was unable to get away initially, as Omega Pharma-Quick Step hit the front right away and strung out the peloton, but it wasn’t long before they called for a slow-down and a breakaway escaped.

Two different circuits featured on the Naples course, beginning with four trips around a 16km course, followed by eight circuits of an 8km lap. The field was together and lined out as the first circuit began, but after ten kilometres, a break had established with seven men comprising it. Wurf, Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Guillaume Bonnafond (Ag2R La Mondiale), Marco Canola (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox), Ricardo Mestre (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Brian Bulgac (Lotto-Belisol), and Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil-DCM) quickly built a lead of over a minute.

Perhaps disappointed with the sharing of the work, Visconti and Wurf moved away alone, though only briefly. The entirety of the break had built its lead on the peloton, so Wurf and Visconti slipped back into their original breakaway. Soon after, Bonnafond hit out in search of the first set of mountain points, on the first of three times up the Via Francesco Petrarcha, although only the first two trips would offer points. Perhaps a bit overanxious, the Frenchman ran out of steam before the top, and both Wurf and Visconti sprinted around the Ag2R rider in sight of the summit, with Visconti taking the points. The lead the seven men built by the top of the climb was 2’17”.

A few of the typical early Grand Tour crashes scraped up the peloton on the next few circuits. Laurent Pinchon (FDJ) seemed to crash on his own, suffering abrasions to his face. He was soon back up and riding, and both he and Yaroslav Popovych (Radioshack-Leopard) were seen getting help from the doctor’s car in later kilometres. The gap to the break came down under two minutes again and hovered around 1’30”, when another small crash caught up Alex Dowsett (Movistar), Matteo Rabottini (Vini Fantini), and Pavel Brutt (Katusha).

It was Wurf who picked up three points on the second time up the Via Francesco Petrarcha, and the Cannondale rider kept the pressure up over the top of the climb, beginning what would be a long, solo ride. The gap to the break was back up over two minutes as Wurf began to move away alone. A series of flats caught up several riders as they headed back toward the finish line, including Saxo-Tinkoff leader Rafael Majka, who was paced back by a team-mate. With 80km to go, Wurf had built his lead to 1’20” over his former breakaway, and 2’10 in front of the peloton.

A more serious-looking crash claimed Pablo Urtasun (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and several others, but Urtasun seemed to be worst off. But everyone including the Basque rider was soon up and moving again, as Daniele Pietropolli (Lampre-Merida) changed his bike.

With 60km to race, the six men from the original break were back in the peloton and Wurf was the lone rider out front, and the Aussie held the gap near two minutes as he began the eight circuits of eight kilometres each.

The peloton was soon breathing down his neck with six laps to go, and the gap at 1’30”, so the main bunch eased back once more and allowed Wurf some more much earned TV time. Sky Procycling and Argos-Shimano were helping Omega Pharma-Quick Step at the front of the peloton, and with five laps remaining, Wurf had a 50-second advantage.

One lap later, Omega Pharma-Quick Step had cut Wurf back to 33 seconds, until Cavendish’s squad lost one of its supporting riders to a slide out on a sharp right-hander. On an especially bad day for bike tires, Rigoberto Uran (Sky Procycling) flatted soon after, but like many others, was calm during his wheel change and subsequent chase back on. With 25 kilometres to race, another small crash caught up Johan Le Bon (FDJ) and a Euskaltel-Euskadi rider, with little damage caused.

Wurf gobbled up the lone intermediate sprint of the day, on the finish line with three laps to go, and riders from Vacansoleil-DCM and Radioshack-Leopard emerged from the main bunch to sweep up the remaining points. With 19km to go, Wurf was back in the bunch, while Sky and Omega Pharma formed separate lines at the front. Cannondale was in charge as the bunch hit the line with one eight-kilometre lap left to race, until Orica-GreenEdge took over with 6km left.

One of the Australian team’s men was raring to go, and snapped the reins briefly, before integrating back in to his train with 3km left. Cannondale took over pacing again with Orica-GreenEdge still there, and BMC Racing was lining up just behind.

On one of the final bends, the most decisive crash of the day took out riders from Ag2R La Mondiale and Orica-GreenEdge, and split the peloton near the front. Orica-GreenEdge still had the majority of its team on the front, and opened up the sprint first for Goss. Cavendish had to close a significant gap after Steegmans spun out his gearing and stalled with mechanical trouble, but Cavendish was quickly back up to the wheel of Viviani, putting him fifth wheel, an ideal spot heading into the bunch gallop. Behind Cavendish, Blythe and Bouhanni battled hard for the Brit’s wheel, with Bouhanni winning out, and eventually taking the right side of the road to try and come around Cavendish.

But it was to no avail. As he has so many times before, Cavendish opened his kick at the right time and beat the speedy Viviani. Bouhanni swung around for third, with Nizzolo fourth and Goss fifth.

Cavendish takes the Maglia Rosa into Sunday’s team time trial stage.

Giro d’Italia Stage One (Naples – Naples 130km) Brief Results:

1, Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
2, Elia Viviani (Cannondale)
3, Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ)
4, Giacomo Nizzolo (Radioshack-Leopard)
5, Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge)
6, Francisco Ventoso (Movistar)
7, Adam Blythe (BMC Racing)
8, Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge)
9, Danilo Hondo (Radioshack-Leopard)
10, Brett Lancaster (Orica-GreenEdge)


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