Much like the Tour de France in a final stage that is not a time trial, there was no threat to the maglia rosa as the peloton rode into Brescia today. Vincenzo Nibali would not be denied his Giro trophy. The only question left to be answered was who would be awarded the red points jersey. Would Mark Cavendish take it back off Nibali? Yes was the answer.
The Giro doesn’t end in Milan this year but in Brescia and Cannondale will want to make the most of this last stage via their sprinter Elia Viviani as they are based not far from the city. That means Omega Pharma-Quick Step will receive assistance in chasing down the inevitable breakaway as they seek to put Mark Cavendish in a position to reclaim the red points jersey from overall leader Vincenzo Nibali, whose victory yesterday gave him an 11-point advantage in the classification.
The Manx Missile will be aiming for his fifth victory in this year’s race but because Nibali, as champion-elect, won’t participate in the final sprint, then any position in the top five should see him complete his hat-trick of grand tour points jerseys – remember that he lost out to Joaquim Rodriguez by a solitary point last year – not to mention any points he picks up at the intermediate sprint.
The stage is flat from start to finish, with a final 4.2km circuit that will be ridden seven times. There are a few demanding turns, but the final 500m to the line is straight and we can be sure that Cavendish will be gunning for nothing other than the win – it’s not in his nature to ride conservatively for a minor placing. After that, pink confetti everywhere and we say goodbye to the most elegant of the grand tours for another year.