Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) took his third win at this year’s Giro d’Italia as he sprinted to victory in the thirteenth stage between Savona and Cervere on Friday afternoon.
But it was a more improvised triumph than usual for the world champion. As his second-to-last lead-out man Peter Kennaugh led the bunch, Orica-GreenEdge usurped the Team Sky effort with 800 metres to go, working for Matt Goss.
No matter. In a split second, Cavendish re-assessed, grabbing the wheel of Garmin sprinter Robbie Hunter.
He was boxed between the barriers and rivals for some time. But as the sprint started, Goss moved to create a small gap on the left. Despite initially appearing to have to slow, Cavendish launched his customary blinding sprint to win.
This was a reminder that Cavendish has the race craft and cool to win without a fully-firing lead out train.
The 26 year old also considerably extended his lead in the points competition, as rival Goss faded badly in the final fifty metres to finish sixth.
On the shortest stage of this year’s Giro, Martin Keizer (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Francesco Failli (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) broke away as the race headed inland from the Riviera start in Savona for 95 kilometres of freedom.
Team Sky’s domestiques kept the gap under control, and Cavendish went on to repay their work in a nerve-wracking finish.
Tomorrow, the Giro d’Italia embarks on its first high mountain stage, a 205km slog between between Cherasco and Cervinia.
Taking in the Col de Joux and a finish at 2,001 metres on the climb to Cervinia, it ought to provide the clearest indication yet of which riders can win this year’s Giro.
Giro d’Italia stage 13, Savona – Cervere, 121km
1. Mark Cavendish (Gbr) Team Sky
2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
3. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Rabobank
4. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Colnago-CSF Inox
5. Elia Favilli (Ita) Farnese Vini
6. Matt Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
7. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ-BigMat
8. Juan Jose Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank-Sungard all at same time
Overall classification after stage 13
1. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha 54-21-15
2. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Barracuda at 17secs
3. Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJ-BigMat at 26secs
4. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana at 32secs
5. Ivan Santaromita (Ita) BMC Racing at 49secs
6. Roman Kreuziger (Svk) Astana at 52secs
7. Benat Intxausti (Esp) Movistar s.t.
8. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 57secs
Giro d’Italia 2012: Latest news
Giro d’Italia 2012: Live coverage
Giro d’Italia 2012: Stage reports
Stage 13: Cavendish makes it three
Stage 12: Bak attacks to win
Stage 11: Ferrari wins Giro stage on ride to redemption
Stage 10: Rodriguez wins thrilling finale to take lead
Stage nine: Ventoso wins in Frosinone as Goss and Cavendish fall
Stage eight: Pozzovivo takes another Giro win
Stage seven: Hesjedal moves into Giro lead
Stage six: Rubiano solos to epic Giro stage win
Stage five: Cavendish bounces back for another stage win
Stage four: Garmin-Barracuda win TTT to take lead
Stage three: Goss wins in Horsens as Cavendish and Phinney crash
Stage two: Cavendish wins in Herning
Stage one: Phinney wins time trial
Giro d’Italia 2012: Photo galleries
Giro d’Italia 2012: Teams and riders
Giro d’Italia 2012: TV guide