Stage 13 – Friday, May 23: Modena – Cittadella, 177km
Today would be a pretty tough day to make exciting, as the road goes up tomorrow and the true contenders would make a showing. Therefore today was a peach for the sprinters, so a doomed break was on tap, and that’s exactly what was offered after the usual Rubik’s cube for the first bit of racing. When the combination came to the peloton’s liking, it manifested itself in the form of Mickaлl Buffaz (Cofidis – Le Crйdit par Tйlйphone) and Josu Agirre Aseginolaza (Euskaltel – Euskadi) extending their lead to five-ish minutes out in front of the bunch.
Il Grillo made the move to go with the break, but sat up and let the two ride away to their happy day off the front.
It was to be another furious finish in the fabled streets of Citadella, and riders were once again had cause to be a bit nervous. Twists and turns and, as Sean Kelly put it, “one very nasty manhole cover” awaited the group.
Quick.Step did the honors on the front for the middle, dull part of the stage.
It was all the way it should have been up until 15km to go, when the two hapless breakaways affixed the blindfolds and had the final cigarettes and the peloton leveled their rifles at them. Break absorbed, it was time for the usual suspects and their charges to take over the show.
Emmanuele Sella took a flyer during the stage today…to ride up the road to greet his family in his hometown. That’s just cool.
The ending quickly became frantic, with pods of teams making brief appearances at the front with their sprinters in tow, all set to the soundtrack of an absolutely frenzied crowd who were creating a tunnel of noise for the riders to race through.
There was very little hurry once the break was gone…that is, until it was time to ready for the sprint.
At 4k to go, High Road, perhaps a little early, assembled their forces at the front, with the ever present Daniele Bennati lurking closeby keeping an eye on Mark Cavendish. At 3k David Millar showed himself with Julian Dean in tow, but he bowed out a little too early and the Kiwi was a bit adrift way too far from the line. Bennati was on Pinotti’s wheel, hiding, plotting, conniving.
Milram’s Ongarato came bursting into the picture with a few other teammates and the stalwart Erik Zabel in tow. They were desperately trying to get the old boy a biscuit as today was his last chance for a while to score a win in this Giro. With the mountains ahead, one wonders if old Erik will make it through to live to see another sprint in a week or so…..
Around the last turn, the chum had dissipated, and only sharks were charging to the line. Zabel, Bennati, and a resurfaced Mark Cavendish shot to the business end of things, along with the somewhat surprising Euskatel rider, Koldo Fernandez.
With only a few hundred meters left to go, Cavendish showed his strength and distanced the others in a burst of Boonen-esque power, to easily take the win, and just after his birthday no less.
The names of recent days will fade to the back pages as the true contenders will come out to shine tomorrow. Stay tuned to Pez to keep bringing you the best coverage of the 2008 Giro! We’re just getting warmed up!
Stage 13 Results
1. Mark Cavendish High Road, 4:11:07
2. Daniele Bennati (I), Liquigas
3. Koldo Fernandez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi
4. Erik Zabel (G), Milram
5. Julien Dean (NZ), Slipstream, all s.t.
General Classification After 13 Stages
Same As Always…wait for tomorrow boys and girls, because it’s gonna get NASTY.