Giro stage 21: The red and the pink

Stage 21: Riese Pio X to Brescia, 197km

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.

For one of the few times in the last three weeks, the weather was sunny and warm, but even then the action didn’t really start until the final two laps around Brescia city centre. Omega Pharma-Quick Step had kept control of the peloton throughout the entire seven circuits. There was some confusion as to where the final intermediate sprint was going to be, so instead of risking it Cavendish just led the way across the line a few times until they were awarded. His team rode on the front the whole time, making sure that their man was safe around the corners and that no other team could boss them around on the technical course.

The last lap got a bit scrappy with RadioShack-Leopard’s Yaroslav Popovych drilling it on the front to try to set up Giacomo Nizzolo, quickly followed by a mass of Cannondale riders who threatened to swamp Cav in the last kilometre to get their man Elia Viviani across first. However, as we’ve seen so many times before, Cavendish found a way through and powered his way to the line for win number five.

VeloVoices rider of the day

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I could say the rider of the day is Mark Cavendish but I won’t. I think he’s had enough love this Giro. I think the rider of the day has to be his teammate Iljo Keisse. Why? Because everybody makes fun of me for my love of Keisse – but hey, who was on the front almost the whole time today? My main man, Iljo. So, my last Giro rider of the day goes to him. He’s the wind beneath Cav’s wings.

Opinion & analysis

Let’s talk a bit about Mark Cavendish. He has now won the points jersey in each of the three grand tours. He is also sixth on the list of all-time grand tour stage wins with 41 – with just three wins at the Tour de France (not unlikely), he’ll leapfrog over Bernard Hinault (42) and Alfredo Binda (43). What does he have to do to make it to number one? Best the 64 stage wins that Eddy Merckx won. Not impossible by any means either.

Now let’s talk about Cadel Evans. With his third place overall, he became one of only four riders who has been on the podium of each of the three grand tours, plus being a rainbow jersey wearer. Not bad for an ex-mountain biker who has a riding style that is not the most elegant. But this is what hard graft can get a rider. So, well done, Cadel. Let’s see what the Tour has in store for him.

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Don’t miss our comprehensive post-Giro reviews, analysis and round-table, starting tomorrow.

Stage 21 result

1. Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) 5:30:09

2. Sacha Modolo (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) same time

3. Elia Viviani (Cannondale) s/t

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

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

General classification

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 84:53:28

2. Rigoberto Uran (Sky) +4:43

3. Cadel Evans (BMC) +5:52

4. Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) +6:48

5. Carlos Betancur (Ag2r La Mondiale) +7:28

6. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) +7:43

7. Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff) +8:09

8. Benat Intxausti (Movistar) +10:26

9. Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini) +10:32

10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) +10:59

Link: Official website

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