Giro d’Italia: Mark Cavendish takes his 100th victory through the pouring rain in Treviso
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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Giro d’Italia: Mark Cavendish takes his 100th victory through the pouring rain in Treviso

by Ben Atkins at 12:02 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Race Reports and Results
 
Wet roads and sickness see Bradley Wiggins drop out of contention

mark cavendish

Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) took his one hundredth victory as a professional in the twelfth stage of the 2013 Giro d’Italia under pouring rain between Longarone and Treviso. The Manxman was led into the finishing straight by lead out man Gert Steegmans, just as he had been on stage six, as the peloton finally caught a five-man breakaway group with just a few hundred metres to go.

Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) sprinted to second place behind Cavendish, having bumped shoulders with Sacha Modolo (Bardiani-CSF) as they fought for the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider’s wheel. Modolo sat up a little as a result, allowing several others past, with third place taken by a fast finishing Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano).

“Normally, these records are not so meaningful, but this one is special,” said Cavendish afterwards. "It isn’t easy to win 100 races. I’ve been looking forward to this one. It’s good to do it at the Giro, and it’s good to do it the way we did it, because my team-mates rode out of their skin from the start of the stage to the finish. The guys were incredible, every single one of them, and that makes it even more special.”

As well as being his hundredth victory as a professional, the stage was Cavendish’s third of the race and, with few chances for the sprinters, meant that he had won three out of three so far.

“We came here wanting to win every sprint, and so far, we’ve done it convincingly, leading the peloton from start to finish,” he said. “Everyone worked to bring the breakaway back. Geert Steegmans was really controlled in the final part. In these difficult conditions, it is easy to get carried away too soon, but today our timing was perfect.

“Today, if I do anything except win, it is regarded as losing,” Cavendish added. “That’s how things have changed. I no longer win races, I lose them. That changes my perception of things and it changes my team’s perception of things. But I guess it’s part of parcel of success.”

The short 134km stage was made difficult and dangerous by the extreme weather but, with the peloton maintaining a steady pace throughout most of the day, there were fortunately no major crashes. With heavy rain falling throughout, the decision was made to take the general classification times at three kilometres to go, so that the overall contenders were spared the danger of having to try to stay near the front on the wet finishing straight.

Despite the conditions Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Bert De Backer (Argos-Shimano), Fabio Felline (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) and Maurits Lammertink and Marco Marcato (both Vacansoleil-DCM) escaped in the early kilometres and, despite being able to get little more than three minutes ahead, almost managed to hold off the sprinters at the finish.

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) finished safely in the peloton with his Maglia Rosa intact.

It was by no means an easy day for those in the peloton, however, with Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), reportedly suffering a chest infection, enduring another bad day in the wet weather. Having been dropped on the descent of the final climb with just over 40km to go, the Tour de France champion lost more that three minutes to the overall contenders and any chance of winning the 2013 Giro d’Italia.

Five brave men set out into the rain to try to foil the sprinters

After the long time trial and several tough climbing days the sprinters were treated to a day of their own at last. There was no improvement in the weather, however, with heavy rain falling throughout the stage, and making the roads treacherous.

Belkov, De Backer, Felline and Lammertink escaped almost as soon as the extended neutralised section was over, with Marcato setting off in pursuit shortly afterwards. At the first Traguardo Volante, at the top of the climb to Pieve d’Alpago after 11km, the four original riders were 26 seconds ahead of Marcato, with the peloton at a minute, and the Italian continued to sprint across the gap on the descent, joining them soon afterwards.

After 33km the quintet was three minutes ahead when, with Belkov leading around a wide corner, all bar De Backer came down as they slid off in the middle of the road. All five riders were up immediately and, having radioed their teammates in the peloton behind them to warn them about the corner, reassembled and continued with their breakaway.

After 40km - with the peloton having tiptoed around that corner - the break was 3’20” ahead, so Omega Pharma-Quick Step took over the peloton from Astana too keep it under control. As they crossed the top of the 4th category Muro di Ca’ del Poggio after 57.3km, the five riders’ lead was down a little at 3’03”.

Cannondale also lending its support to the chase, but those up the road were refusing to yield, and they were still 2’23” clear as they passed the second Traguardo Volante sprint, in Vidor with 55km to go.

Over the 4th category Montello Santa Maria della Vittoria with 41km to go, the gap stretched out a little to 2’39”, as Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Cannondale eased their sprinters over the top in an effort to avoid putting them under pressure.

Another wet descent sees an ailing Bradley Wiggins lose contact

De Backer, the only one of the five not to have crashed earlier moved ahead on the descent, but the Belgian was not attacking and the others were able to rejoin him before long. Despite the peloton also taking a careful path down the descent behind them, Wiggins - who had been close to the back of the peloton for most of the day - lost contact and his teammates had the tough task of pacing him back up to his rivals.

With 25km to go the quintet still held 2’15” over the peloton, giving them a real chance of holding on for victory, but Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Cannondale were joined at the front by BMC Racing and strung the peloton into a long line. At the 20km to go banner the gap to the break was down to 1’35”; the Wiggins group was now 40 seconds behind the main bunch, with the Tour de France champion having trouble staying with his chasing teammates on the flat, straight road.

Sky teammate Christian Knees dropped back to pace Wiggins back into the second peloton but, with 15km to go they were two minutes behind the first, with - despite the presence of most of the Sky team - very little hope of rejoining the front of the race.

The gap to the break was now just a minute as Orica-GreenEdge joined the paceline at the front of the peloton.

At the ten kilometre banner the break had just 35 seconds, but all five riders continued to work together as they approached the finish line for the first time. Starting the final 7.5km loop they were 25 seconds ahead of the sprinters’ teams, but they were holding them off on the wet circuit as the lead riders tried to avoid taking risks.

The Wiggins group - with Team Sky in team time trial mode - was 3’08” behind the breakaway group.

With four kilometres to go the five leaders had just 15 seconds of their lead left, but at three kilometres - where the time was to be taken - they still had ten. Wiggins was at 3’17”, which would drop him to 13th in the general classification.

Into the final kilometre and a half the peloton had the break in its sights, but still the five riders kept working together to try to hold them off. Slowly, but surely the gap of no more than a few metres was closed in the final kilometre however and with around 500 metres left they were caught.

Felline tried to jump away to hold them off for just a little longer, but Steegmans powered past the Italian with Cavendish on his wheel and, once the Manxman had opened up his sprint nobody was able to get close to him and he powered to his third victory of the race.

Behind him Bouhanni and Sacha Modolo (Bardiani-CSF) came together a little, with the Italian sitting up, with the French champion taking second place ahead of a fast finishing Mezgec.

Result stage 12
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ
3. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Argos-Shimano
4. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack-Leopard
5. Brett Lancaster (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
6. Manuel Belletti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
7. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
8. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox
9. Ioannis Tamouridis (Gre) Euskaltel-Euskadi
10. Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar Team

Standings after stage 12
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Team Astana
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team @ 41s
3. Rigoberto Urán (Col) Team Sky @ 2’04”
4. Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling @ 2’12”
5. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida @ 2’13”
6. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia @ 2’55”
7. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida @ 3’35”
8. Beñat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar Team @ 4’05”
9. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale @ 4’17”
10. Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 4’21”

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