Giro d'Italia: Mark Cavendish sprints to 40th Grand Tour victory on stage 13
By Matt Westby. Last Updated: 17/05/13 5:28pm
Mark Cavendish claimed his 40th Grand Tour stage win
Mark Cavendish surged to his fourth victory of the Giro d'Italia and 40th Grand Tour win with a virtuoso sprint on stage 13.
The 27-year-old Briton entered the final 1km to the finish line in Cherasco without any team-mates around him, but produced a devastating burst of speed to beat Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack-Leopard) into second and Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) into third.
The victory was as much a triumph for his climbing skills as his sprinting, though, after he safely negotiated the three ascents of a tough, 254km day at the front of the peloton.
Cavendish now moves into sixth on his own on the all-time list of Grand Tour stage winners, two behind fifth-placed Bernard Hinault's mark of 42 and 24 adrift of the record of 64 held by Eddy Merckx. He also extends his lead at the top of the Giro points classification.
"It is a bit of a bonus and an extra trophy, but I am so tired," Cavendish said afterwards. "I don't know how I am going to recover from this before the mountains.
"It is a common misconception when people say sprinters are lazy - the amount of effort it takes out of you to do that, especially when you are on the limit.
"It has been a damaging few days and I had to go 350m out after that hard day. I am on my knees. All I could do was go and not look back."
Stage 13 was the longest of the Giro and took the riders on a largely flat route from Busseto to Cherasco, in north-western Italy, under bright and clear skies.
Seven riders broke clear of the peloton and looked like they could stay away when they opened up a gap of almost 14 minutes, but Cavendish's Omega Pharma - Quick-Step began to chase at a fierce pace and the advantage soon plummeted.
Sensing their time in the lead was coming to an end, three of the escapees - Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol), Nicola Boem (Bardiani Valvole - CSF Inox) and Pablo Lastras (Movistar) - pushed ahead of the rest of the breakaway on the slopes of the day's only categorised climb, the category-three Tre Cuni, 45km out, and maintained a gap of around one minute.
Quick-Step dig deep
With Cavendish still well-placed over the summit, Omega Pharma - Quick-Step continued to lead the chase, but they came under severe pressure inside an undulating final 15km as several teams mounted attacks in a bid to avoid a bunch sprint.
A new nine-man breakaway group consequently formed, and Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) later forged clear on his own by attacking his colleagues 6.5km out.
By now all but one of Cavendish's team-mates had peeled off exhausted having led the peloton all day, but Cannondale took over at the front and hauled Caruso back in time to set up a bunch finish.
Although Cavendish entered the closing metres on his own, he tucked into the slipstreams of his rivals and timed his decisive burst perfectly.
The result sees him extend his lead over Cadel Evans in the points classification from 10 points to 35.
Stage 13 result
1 Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, 6:09:55
2 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack-Leopard, st
3 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Argos-Shimano, st
4 Brett Lancaster (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE, st
5 Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale, st
6 Manuel Belletti (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
7 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Saxo-Tinkoff, st
8 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida, st
9 Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ, st
10 Miguel Angel Rubiano (Col) Androni-Giocattoli, st
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, 52:38:09
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
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)