We’ve already learned not to judge a book by its cover in this Giro d’Italia. Even the most innocuous stages can throw up the most problems for the riders, and stage 13 was no different.
There was plenty to talk about, so here’s what got our tongues wagging.
1. Unlucky stage 13
The rider who wears the number 13 in a race often turns their jersey number upside-down as a nod to the gods of luck and cycling. The Giro organisers, on purpose or not, gave the riders a stage 13 where nothing could go wrong…or so they thought.
Apart from the wind and rain there was literally nothing, and I mean nothing, along the route that could cause anyone harm. There was not a hill in sight, the highest point of the course was the start, at 50m, and finished at sea level.
But a crash with just 3.4km turned this whole Giro d’Italia upside-down, with Alberto Contador relinquishing his pink jersey to Fabio Aru and Richie Porte losing even more time.
Oh the gods of harsh, aren’t they?
2. Porte’s Giro just gets worse
As if losing time to Contador and Aru on stage stage 10, he was then smacked with a two minute penalty for getting help from a mate.
After the crash on stage 13 he got help from another mate, luckily this time it was Vasil Kiryienka, a member of his own team, who gave him his bike.
If it wasn’t such a serious situation for Porte, I’m sure he’d have chuckled to himself at the ludicrous situation he found himself in – riding a bike that was far too big for him.
Porte lost two minutes on Aru, who finished in the front group, and over 90 seconds on Contador all but ending his hopes of winning this race.
His saving grace after being docked time on stage 10 was that he might be able to get it all back in Saturday’s time trial, but now he’s five minutes down he’d have to put in one of the best performances of his life to have any chance of getting back in the hunt.
Damn those cycling gods again.
3. Fabio Aru takes control of the pink jersey
Aru was someone who had luck on his side on stage 13. There he was minding his own business and then all of a sudden he found himself with a sizeable gap over his big rivals.
It’s these kind of things where people say it’s more luck than judgement, but Aru and his team had to ensure he was far enough forward as the sprinters’ teams upped the pace.
Even though the crash happened quite close to the front of the peloton, Porte and Contador were a bit too far back to ensure their safe passage, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.
It’s odd because Aru looked pretty average in the previous two stages, losing time to Contador on stage 12 and and looking a bit dicey in the rain. Now he’s leading the whole race, although we can expect that jersey to be passed straight back on stage 14.
4. Lampre-Merida’s Giro just gets better
Away from the General Classification battle there was a stage to win, and once again it was Lampre-Merida who did it.
It was their third stage win of the Giro – more than any other team – and their third different winner to boot. After Jan Polanc and Diego Ulissi triumphed in stages five and seven it was Sacha Modolo’s turn to go for glory in stage 13.
They’ve also done the trifecta of winning on every terrain – Polanc’s summit finish, Ulissi’s win on a hilly stage, and now Modolo’s sprint on the pan flat stage.
The win for Modolo was a pretty tight one as well, taking it by a whisker from Trek’s Giacomo Nizzolo by a whisker.
With eight stages left in this race we may not have seen the end of Lampre’s success.
5. Viviani back in red
Viviani may have been a touch off the pace in the final sprint – claiming third but still relatively far back from Modolo and Nizzolo – but the Team Sky rider moves back into the red jersey as the leader of the sprint classification.
Now, Viviani has the jersey back and will be able to indulge in his penchant for a red skinsuit, as shown in his first stint, in the stage 14 time trial.
Nizzolo has come from the shadows to move into second place, on the same points tally as Viviani, while Lotto-Soudal’s Greipel finds himself well down in fifth after only managing 13th on Friday’s stage.
Dr Hutch talks us through the long time trial at the Giro d’Italia