Cavendish Wins Stage 1 of Giro d'Italia 2013
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) has drawn first blood at the Giro d'Italia. The Manx missile powered past Elia Viviani (Cannondale) in the last 200 m of a crash-marred bunch sprint to win the flat, 130-km circuit race in and around Naples in 2:58:18.
Viviani settled for second, and Nacer Bouhanni (Francaise des Jeux) finished third. Cavendish donned the 2013 Giro's first maglia rosa .
Warm, fair conditions greeted the riders, and the hostilities began early. In the opening km, Guillaume Bonnafond (Ag2r), Marco Canola (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox), Cameron Wurf (Cannondale), Ricardo Mestre (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Brian Bulgac (Lotto-Belisol), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), and Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil-DCM) sallied off of the front. Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Argos-Shimano led the peloton in keeping the escapees on a short leash, and the break never led the bunch by more than two minutes.
Eventually, Wurf set out on his own, and the peloton engulfed his erstwhile companions with 71.5 kms left. At this point, Wurf led the field by 1:55.
Sky and BMC joined Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Argos-Shimano at the front to protect Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans, respectively. The gap between Wurf and the peloton dropped to 1:06 with 41 kms remaining and 0:22 with 24 kms left. Five kms later, the bunch reeled in the Cannondale man.
In the final kms, GreenEdge, Cannondale, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, and Argos-Shimano battled for control of the peloton. With two kms to go, Cannondale took over from Omega Pharma-Quick Step. A crash wiped out or held up virtually the entire field, and only about a dozen riders contested the sprint. Orica-GreenEdge gave Matthew Goss a textbook leadout, but Cavendish jumped him and Viviani for the win.
In the weeks preceding the Giro, observers had raised questions about the Manxman's leadout train on Omega Pharma-Quick Step, and Cavendish himself had criticized it publicly. Today, however, Cavendish did not have a bad word to say about the support that he received.
"Just because it's not a big line in the last km doesn't mean that the team hasn't done everything to get me there," Cavendish said. "You would have seen a mastermind from Gert [Steegmans] had he not had yet another mechanical this year. He did an incredible job to lead me up in the last kms, got on the right wheel, and then unfortunately had a mechanical problem. Sure, I had to close a gap in the last km, but had he not had a complication, you would have seen him lead me to the front and then in the final."
"So, I'm really happy how it went, as the guys rode all day on the front. It's not easy to sit on the front when you got guys surging and there's a sprint for every corner. It's like a series of efforts. It's not easy to sprint for every corner, brake, accelerate. It's not easy, and the team did that all day before dropping me off at the end. I'm lucky I've got the speed to be able to come back like that in the final. I'm really happy today," Cavendish added.
In the overall, Cavendish leads Viviani by 0:08 and Bouhanni by 0:12. Stage 2 might change the standings. It will be a rolling, 17.4-km team time trial from Ischia to Forio in the Bay of Naples. Which team will push itself into the race lead? Sky? Garmin-Sharp? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!