Cavendish Takes Stage 13 of Giro d'Italia 2013
Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack-Leopard) finished second, and Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) took third. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) remains the maglia rosa.
It took a while for the break of the day to form. At 30 km, Danilo Hondo (RadioShack Leopard), Giairo Ermeti (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), and Rafael Andriato (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) sallied off of the front, and Pablo Lastras (Movistar), Tobias Ludvigsson (Argos-Shimano), Lars Ytting Bak (Lotto-Belisol), and Nicola Boem (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) eventually joined the trio. The septet's lead ballooned to 13 minutes by about 90 km.
The sprinters' teams went to work and gradually narrowed the gap between the bunch and the break. With 37 km left, less than a minute of the break's advantage remained. At that point, Bak, Boem, and Lastras dropped their companions.
With 15 km to go, Boem attacked. Lastras countered and took the lead. Behind, attacks occurred in the peloton, and a number of riders, including Matteo Rabottini and Oscar Gatto (both from Vini Fantini-Selle Italia), Jorge Azanza (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Francesco Bongiorno (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox), Jose Herrada (Movistar), and Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) joined Lastras in the lead. On the day's last climb, the escapees started attacking each other. Just short of the summit, with six km left, Caruso got clear.
The peloton did not respond to Caruso's move immediately, and for a time it appeared that the Italian might stay away. Cannondale, however, began chasing on behalf of Elia Viviani. With 500 m remaining, Cannondale started leading out Viviani. With 350 m left, Cavendish burst to his right, took the lead, and held off Nizzolo for the win.
Cavendish revealed that he had not intended to ride for the win today. "I am so tired. It's a common misconception that sprinting is the laziest amount of effort," Cavendish said. "It takes a lot to do that, especially when you're at the limit. I had to go from 300 meters after a hard day. I'm on my knees. I actually didn't want to go for the sprint today, but my sport directors asked me to try and we did it. We were pulling, the guys stayed with me on the climbs, they worked so hard for me again and I'm so proud of them.
"You could see the confidence my team had in me," Cavendish said. "Even when I say I don't want to sprint, they still ride 100 percent until they aren't able to go anymore. I said I wasn't able to win today and they still gave everything. You can see the difference in the last meters when your team's ridden the whole day, even if you don't think you can do it, if they put every single last ounce into effort into getting you there, then you finish it off. If they do this, it's not impossible for me to sleep at night if I don't win. I can always do miraculous things that I don't think is possible for me to do when I have a team that believes I can do it as well."
As for what lies ahead in the mountains, Cavendish said, "It's about survival — for me and for the guys. It's exactly the same on the flat days as it is in the mountains. It's important we stay together and we ride as best we can from the start line to the finish line. For sure we're suffering tomorrow as much as the first guys in the GC. We'll go out, just a lot slower than them. That's part of cycling, that's part of the Grand Tours. Without getting through the mountains, you don't get to see the success of the sprints. We'll just try to get through it as best as possible."
In the overall, Nibali leads Cadel Evans (BMC) by 0:41 and Rigoberto Uran (Sky) by 2:04. Stage 14 could be a standing shaker. The 168-km ride from Cervere to Bardonecchia will feature a Category 2 ascent at 125 km and a Category 1 climb to the finish. Expect a fight for the maglia rosa on the final climb. Who will win it? Nibali? Evans? Uran? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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