Cavendish Wins Stage 12 of Giro d'Italia 2013
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) has won his third stage of this year's Giro d'Italia and the 100th race of his professional career.
The Manx missile took a bunch sprint to win Stage 12, a rolling, 134-km run from Longarone to Treviso, in 3:01:47. Nacer Bouhanni (Francaise des Jeux) finished second, and Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) took third. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) remains the maglia rosa .
As has been the case throughout much of this year's Giro, the riders contended with rain. The break of the day formed practically at the gun, when Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Fabio Felline (Androni Giacattoli-Venezuela), Bert De Backer (Argos-Shimano), and Maurits Lammertink (Vacansoleil-DCM) sallied off of the front, with Lammertink's teammate Marco Marcato joining the move later. The quintet led the field by 1:30 at 11 km, but the peloton kept the break on a short leash, and the escapees' advantage was never much bigger than three minutes.
At 34 km, Marcato crashed, and all of his companions except De Backer hit the deck as well. De Backer waited for them, and the break continued on its way.
Because Stage 12 was one of the few sprinters' stages in the race, Astana was relieved of the responsibility of leading the chase. The sprinters' teams, particularly Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Cannondale, did the work of reeling in the fugitives.
With about 40 km left, the peloton got serious about snuffing out the break. Bradley Wiggins, who is suffering from a chest infection, was dropped and never returned to the peloton. The Tour de France champion lost more than three minutes and any chance of winning the 2013 Giro. The break's lead was down to two minutes with 20 km left and one minute with 13 km remaining. With seven km to go, the gap between bunch and break had narrowed to about 0:25.
For a while, it appeared that the peloton might have waited too long to make the catch, but the break was reeled in with 500 m left. Gert Steegmans led out team captain Cavendish, who took the lead with 150 m left and won easily.
"It was incredible," Cavendish said. "We left it until right at the end. The break had a minute with 10km to go. That's hard to pull back on a circuit in the rain. Cannondale came to the front but it was more left to my men. Young Julien Vermote pulled and pulled until his legs couldn't come around anymore. Matteo Trentin normally would come to the front with about one km to go, but with 2.5 km to go he took over and just rode and rode. It wasn't easy as we were close to not catching the break. Gert Steegmans could have gone and left me in 'no man's land,' but he waited and waited. I was actually stressing a bit to be honest. But I'm so happy, my 100th win, and what a way to do it with the guys. I'm so proud.
"Normally, these records are not so meaningful, but this one is special because 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 teammates rode out of their skin from the start