Mark Cavendish(Omega Pharma), aka The Manx Missile chalked up his 100th career win with a soggy sprint into Treviso at the end of stage 12 of the Giro d’italia. Cavendish has dominated the sprint scene in professional bike riding for the past few years. He has had great lead out men, but showed today why he is the man to beat in the high level racing circles.
Vincenzo Nibali(Astana) continues to hold the top place in the Giro d’italia with a 41 seconds lead over Cadel Evans(BMC).
Today’s stage was a wet, dangerous one. Race officials had to shorten the official length from 134 km to 129 when a vehicle incident blocked the starting section. They also deemed that those riders who had already crossed the line marking the final 3km would be given the same finishing time as the first across it. This was decided to avoid a melee at the finish line with competitors jockeying for fractions of seconds advantage. Riders who had not made it to that final 3 would be assessed time penalties. You can bet that there would be a run on hot showers at the end of today’s grueling trek. Most of the athletes rode with rain capes, leg warmers and arm warmers. BMC riders also had on what looked like thick waterproof gloves.
Five riders went off the front of the peloton early and maintained their distance for most of the race. They were swept up by the train within the final kilometre by the sprinters.
Fortunes can change quickly in these Grand Tour races. Today Bradley Wiggins(Sky) was a casualty. He has a chest infection which has knocked him back. His Sky team rallied around him helping him through this nightmare day, but his hopes of grasping the top prize are now distant. He places 13th with a 5’22” time deficit. Last year’s Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal(Garmin) has also been knocked out of top contention with medical problems.
Tomorrow the stage is a long one, 254 km from Busseto to Cherasco.
Stage 12 Finish
1. Mark Cavendish, Omega Pharma Quickstep
2. Nacer Bouhanni, FDJ
3. Luka Mezgec, Argos Shimano
4. Giacomo Nizzolo, Radioshack
5. Brett Lancaster, Orica
1. Vincenzo Nibali, Astana
2. Cadel Evans, BMC Racing
3. Rigoberto Uran Uran, Sky
4. Robert Gesink, Blanco
5. Michele Scarponi, Lampre
For racing details on this and previous stages, a good English language site is Steephill TV.