Giro stage 12: Centurion Cav

Stage 12: Longarone to Treviso, 134km

Mark Cavendish withstood torrential rain to take a convincing victory in Treviso on the shortest road stage (134km) of this year’s Giro. It was his third victory and his 100th in total as a pro. His Omega Pharma-Quick Step team sat on the front of the peloton all day as Gert Steegmans reeled in the last remnants of the day’s five-man break with just 350 metres to go, then dropped him off in pole position at the 200-metre board. Game over, as Cav won handily by 1½ bike lengths.

FDJ’s Nacer Bouhanni took second but promptly withdrew from the race, citing fatigue. Argos-Shimano’s Luka Mezgec, taking over from the already abandoned John Degenkolb, was third. Race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and almost all of the main contenders finished safely in the main bunch.

However, the real drama was happening some 3½ minutes behind as Bradley Wiggins became detached late on and, reportedly suffering from both a chest infection and a sore knee, could not regain the peloton despite a cadre of Sky teammates dropping back to pace him. As a result Wiggins dropped to 13th overall, 5:22 down, and a decision on his continued participation will be made overnight. Teammate Rigoberto Uran, third overall, will now assume team leadership and attempt to close the gap on Nibali and second-placed Cadel Evans (BMC).

VeloVoices rider of the day

With another of his rivals abandoning with fatigue, Mark Cavendish just seems to be getting stronger and stronger. This was his tenth win of 2013, moving him back ahead of Peter Sagan and Marcel Kittel as this year’s most successful rider to date. It also marks the seventh consecutive year where he has reached double digits in wins – in the last 30 years only Erik Zabel has matched this feat. As ever, Cav was quick to acknowledge the efforts of his team:

With late climbs before the finish, tomorrow’s stage 13 and next week’s stage 17 are unlikely to favour him, leaving only the final day a likely bunch finish. So don’t be surprised if he abandons before this weekend’s high mountains to save himself for the Tour de France, but even if he does he has already established himself beyond doubt as the dominant sprinter in this Giro. Normal service has been resumed after some settling-in problems at OPQS.

Opinion & analysis

Given the weather conditions, it was unsurprising that the peloton tiptoed their way down today’s descents. Only after it became clear that Wiggins was in difficulty did BMC put the hammer down to distance him, claiming afterwards that it was merely a move to keep Cadel Evans safe. Yeah, right.

The odds on Vincenzo Nibali retaining the maglia rosa all the way to Brescia are shortening by the day, and he will have been delighted at the end of a stage in which his team were given a breather by OPQS and he negotiated the slippery roads without incident while the final nail was hammered into Wiggins’ Giro aspirations. The Tour de France champion dropped out of the top ten, in all probability ending his participation in the race. Other than that, there was no change at the top of the GC.

Stage 12 result

1. Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) 3:01:47

2. Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) same time

3. Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) s/t

4. Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack-Leopard) s/t

5. Brett Lancaster (Orica-GreenEDGE) s/t

General classification

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 46:28:14

2. Cadel Evans (BMC) +0:41

3. Rigoberto Uran (Sky) +2:04

4. Robert Gesink (Blanco) +2:12

5. Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) +2:13

6. Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) +2:55

7. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) +3:35

8. Benat Intxausti (Movistar) +4:05

9. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) +4:17

10. Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff) +4:21

Link: Official website

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