Thursday, May 16, 2013

STAGE 13 Preview 2013 Giro d'Italia


Congratulations are due to Mark Cavendish for clocking his 100th career win as a professional cyclist. The Manx Missile came from a chaotic pack that was still chasing down the breakaway group in the last 500 meters of the stage. In characteristic form he torpedoed through a swell of sprinters to take his third stage win of this Giro d’Italia. Behind him Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) and Luca Mezgec (ARG) fought over the scraps. The win also earned Cav the Red points jersey, previously held by Cadel Evans.

The Manx Missile's milestone win
The General Classification was mostly unchanged, and Vincenzo Nibali retained the Pink Jersey. The big loser today was Bradley Wiggins who dropped from 4th place to 13th on GC. His team reported this morning that he is suffering from a cold and a chest infection, and today’s soaking trek could not have been any help. He fell behind after the only categorized climb and despite the aid of all his teammates, other than the still-contending Colombian duo of Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Uran, team Sky’s leader could not make it back up to the hard-chasing peloton. He finished over three minutes behind the Maglia Rosa group and lost his high placement on GC. Sky’s GC hopes are still very much alive however, with Uran currently riding in 3rd place overall, and Henao not far back in 11th.
Cavendish takes his 3rd win of the Giro, and 100th career

The short stage was largely characterized by the torrential rain that showered the riders over the entire 134-kilometer course. The finish was very technical with several corners on some newly paved roads so the race directors wisely chose to neutralize the last 3 kilometers to avoid unnecessary disasters. The original finish line would still see the sprint point for the stage win however.

A quintet of escapees consisting of Maxim Belkov (KAT-winner of stage 9), Bert de Backer (ARG), Fabio Felline (AND), Mauris Lammertink and Marco Marcato (VCD) controlled the lead almost to the finish, but for the late catch by the sprinters.  They had a scare when four of the five escapees crashed on a slippery curve about 30 or 35 kms into the stage. They were all up and back on the road after a few bike swaps. The 3:00 lead they had before the pile-up was maintained afterward as the peloton slowed significantly to take that same wet curve.

Stage 13 Profile
Rain is forecast again for Stage 13 on Friday. The stage features another possible sprint stage finish—or does it?  At 254 kilometers it is the longest stage of the race. To get an idea of the length of this stage, after 182 kms of racing on flats, instead of a finish line the riders will just be hitting the first intermediate sprint point.
A single category 3 hill comes at km 211, the summit tops out about 35 kms before the finish. Regardless of the specs (looks like it climbs 482 vertical meters over 10.1 kms; that would be a little under 5% average) that far from the finish, the climb should not be decisive.

More likely to produce a disruptive move is the 2.5 km climb to Narzole near the finish. The road is narrow and has some steep hairpins up through town that could offer an escape opportunity to a puncheur with some fuel left in the tank after 245 kms of racing in the rain. The uncategorized hill tops out with 6 kms of flats to go, so a comfortable lead would be needed to stay away to the line. If a large peloton makes it to Narzole near the front, a lot of riders will lick their chops for this stage because they’ll be lucky just to get through the next two stages in the mountains. It is even possible that the pure sprinters might not get another shot until the last stage into Brescia ten days from now.


LIKELY PICKS: I guess one of the stronger sprinters would be the safest bet, maybe Movistar’s Francisco Ventoso or Bardiani’s Sacha Modolo?
DARK-HORSE PICK: Laurent Pichon (FDJ)
MY PICK: This could be another stage that looks tasty to Katusha’s stage-3 winner Luca Paolini.

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