Stage 13: Savona – Cervere 121km

Giro d’Italia 13: Mark Cavendish wins in Cervere

Mark Cavendish claimed his third stage win in the Giro in Cervere (AFP/Getty Images)

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Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) claimed his third Giro d’Italia
stage win in what was the best bunch sprint of the race so far. It also
demonstrated the Briton’s ability to remain cool and plot a way to the
front when for several moments it seemed that his chance had gone.

After his Sky lead-out train had taken over the pace-making 1500m
from the finish in Cervere, Cavendish found himself trapped against the
left-hand barriers going into the final 500m when Orica-GreenEdge came through very close on their right to set up Matt Goss.
For a couple of seconds, it looked like Cavendish would get lost in the
pack behind the Australian and his team-mates, but the Manxman showed
why he is a master at getting out of a tight situation as he picked his
way through half a dozen riders.

With two Sky riders still ahead of him but not able to allow him past
as Goss’s train steamed by, Cavendish moved across onto the wheel of
Garmin’s Robbie Hunter as the sprint was launched. The world champion
then jumped into a gap that opened up alongside the left-hand barriers,
freewheeled momentarily as the gap closed, then once again saw daylight
ahead and was off towards it in an instant.

At the line he was more than a bike length clear of Alexander
Kristoff (Katusha), with Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) third. Goss finished in
sixth place and lost significant ground on Cavendish in the battle for
the red points jersey.

“It’s taken me a week to recover from the crash that I had but every day I’m feeling better and better,” said Cavendish.

Rodriguez – can he defend for another eight stages?

There was no change in the overall standings. Joaquim Rodríguez
retained the pink jersey going into a crucial weekend of racing,
featuring back-to-back summit finishes. In fact, the shortest road stage
of the race was also the quietest so far, run at a steady rather than a
frantic pace and with few incidents of note until the closing moments.

Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Francesco Failli (Farnese Vini)
went clear in the opening kilometres, opening a gap of five-and-a-half
minutes with 40km covered. That was as much leeway as they were allowed.
Sky and FDJ joined forces to set a steady pace behind them. The two-man
escape was finally nullified with 21km remaining.

From then on, the main interest was in seeing which sprint line could
dominate the pace-making. In fact, no one team could for very long as
all of the sprinters and overall contenders seemed determined to stick
close to the front. At times there were three or four separate trains
spearheading the front of the bunch.

The only break from this fascinating duel came on a rise with 6.5km
left. Fabio Felline (Androni), Julien Berard (Ag2r) and Julien Vermote
(Omega Pharma) went away, but were reeled in by the bunch after just 2km
of freedom. Saxo Bank briefly took over at the front, only to lose out
to Sky, who didn’t get their lead-out right but still came away with the
win thanks to their sprinter’s quick thinking and blistering