Cavendish Sprints to Victory in Stage 6 of Giro d'Italia 2013
After a number of abortive sallies, Cameron Wurf (Cannondale) and Jack Bobridge (Blanco) got clear at about 15 kms. The two Australians went unmolested, and by 38 kms they had forged a 6:25 lead. Omega Pharma-Quick Step took over at the front and pegged the lead at about 4:50 by 50 kms. Francaise des Jeux joined the Belgian squad at the front, and the two teams gradually reeled in the escapees. With 36 km left, the peloton was together.
Four kms later, Bradley Wiggins (Sky) suffered a mechanical, and the Tour de France winner dropped back to the team car for a bike change. While we was working his way back through the field, a crash occurred. Several riders went down, and many others, including Wiggins, were delayed. Katusha, which was leading the field, eased up to allow those affected to rejoin the peloton.
Sky moved Wiggins to the front to keep him out of additional trouble, and Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Astana, Francaise des Jeux, Sky, Garmin-Sharp, and Argos-Shimano followed suit. The sprinters' teams battled for position, and with five kms left, Manuele Boaro (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) attacked. Cannondale, Argos-Shimano, and Omega Pharma-Quick Step reeled him in.
Sky took over again at the front, but Francaise des Jeux surged past the British squad. Other teams followed, and Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM) attacked with two km to go. Orica-GreenEdge chased him down, however.
Argos-Shimano led the field into the last km, and Omega Pharma-Quick Step trailed the Dutch squad. Gert Steegmans led team captain Cavendish into the last 250 ms. From there, the Manxman powered into the lead to win easily.
After the stage, Cavendish spoke of the peloton's nervousness and the sprint finish. "It [the crash] made everyone nervous," he said. "All the GC teams, including BMC, Sky, were in the leading group there with less than three kms to go. I just tried to follow Gert Steegmans. There was always going to be a team going too early. My boys waited and waited and then hit it at the right time.
"My team was brilliant today. We led the peloton from the beginning. All the guys rode until their legs couldn't go any more, and that was before the leadout even began....Gert Steegmans at his best is one of the best leadout men ever."
In the overall, Paolini leads Rigoberto Uran (Sky) by 0:17 and Benat Intxuasti (Euskaltel-Euskadi) by 0:26. Stage 7, a rugged, 177.0-km ride from Marina di San Salvo to Pescara, will not change this state of affairs. Neither will there be a sprint finish. The four categorized climbs--two Category 4s and two Category 3s--along with the fact that the GC contenders will want to conserve their strength for Saturday's individual time trial, point to this stage being won by a no-hope escapee. Who will it be? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!