Giro d'Italia: Mark Cavendish wins stage 12 but Bradley Wiggins loses three minutes to rivals
By Matt Westby. Last Updated: 16/05/13 6:39pm
Mark Cavendish claimed his 100th professional victory
Mark Cavendish sprinted to his 100th professional win on stage 12 of the Giro d'Italia but Sir Bradley Wiggins's hopes of claiming overall victory were ended after he lost another huge chunk of time to his rivals.
Despite being a flat stage, the Team Sky rider was dropped by the peloton around 25km out and eventually crossed the line in Treviso more than three minutes down on Vincenzo Nibali, Cadel Evans and Rigoberto Uran - the top three in the general classification.
Wiggins revealed before the stage that he has been suffering from a cold and chest infection and looked both ill and uncomfortable on a day marred by torrential rain.
He has dropped to 13th overall, 5min 22sec behind Nibali, and will now pass on the leadership of Team Sky to Uran, who is 2min 4sec adrift.
There was no such struggle for Cavendish, whose Omega Pharma - Quick-Step team led the stage from start to finish and delivered him perfectly for a comfortable sprint win over Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) in second and Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) in third.
"I am so, so happy," the 27-year-old Briton said afterwards. "It is my 100th win and what a beautiful way to do it. The team were incredible. From kilometre zero they were riding on the front."
While Cavendish's day was near-perfect, Wiggins's was the exact opposite. Hours after revealing he had been struck down by sickness, he took to the start line in Longarone, in north-eastern Italy, under a deluge of heavy rain.
The conditions were so bad that when the day's five-man breakaway took a right-hand turn midway through the stage, four of them slipped and fell independent of each other on a river of rainwater that had formed across the road.
Although Wiggins spent the first two-thirds of the route riding at the back of the peloton, he negotiated the day's two categorised climbs safely and kept in touch.
But as the sprinters' teams began to ramp up the pace in the final 30km, he was one of a number of riders who were dropped and, with 20km to go, he found himself in a chase group 1min 15sec behind the peloton.
He was later distanced by that group as well and, with team-mates further up the road, he spent several kilometres riding almost alone.
Six of his Team Sky colleagues later dropped back to help, but by that time his deficit had stretched to over two minutes and it grew further to 3min 17sec at the finish.
Up ahead, the breakaway riders - Fabio Felline (Androni), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Maurits Lammertink (Vacansoleil-DCM), Bert de Backer (Argos-Shimano) and Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM) - put up a brave fight and threatened to upset the odds by staying clear.
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step and later Cannondale dug deep to drag them back, though, and the quintet were finally caught inside the last 500m with the line in sight.
Cavendish was the first to launch the sprint and after he opened up a gap on his rivals, victory was never in doubt and he now takes back over as leader of the points classification.
Watch highlights of stage 12 on Sky Sports 2HD from 9.30pm
Stage 12 result
1 Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, 3:01:47
2 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ, same time
3 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Argos-Shimano, st
4 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack-Leopard, st
5 Brett Lancaster (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE, st
6 Manuel Belletti (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
7 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida, st
8 Sacha Modolo (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox, st
9 Ioannis Tamoridis (Gre) Euskaltel-Euskadi, st
10 Francesco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar, st
122 Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky, +3.17
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, 46:28:14
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC, +41secs
3 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Team Sky, +2.04
4 Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco, +2.12
5 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida, +2.13
6 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini, +2.55
7 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida, +3.35
8 Benat Inxausti (Spa) Movistar, +4.05
9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +4.17
10 Rafal Majka (Pol) Saxo-Tinkoff, +4.21
13 Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky, +5.32
Red (points classification) - Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step)
Blue (mountains classification) - Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole - CSF Inox)
White (best young rider) - Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff)