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Giro d'Italia

Giro’13 St.12: 100 Up For Cav!
12_cav650 Approaching his 28th birthday, Mark Cavendish has joined the century club … congrats to the Manx Missile on his 100th professional win, achieved in thoroughly crappy conditions but with textbook teamwork. It was a sprinters’ stage alright, but that wasn’t the major talking point …

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The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain, according to the nursery rhyme at least. In Italy, it just falls and falls everywhere, if today’s stage is anything to go by. It’s also a stage where not much is supposed to happen … but it all went pear-shaped for Bradley Wiggins.

A break goes inside ten kilometers: two Vacansoleil-DCMs putting themselves forward with their sponsors departing, namely Marco Marcato and Maurits Lammertink; Androni’s Fabio Felline; Bert de Backer of Argos-Shimano and Sunday’s stage winner Maxim Belkov from Katusha. We’re on short stage duty today – 134kms or about three hours of hard graft.

Just approaching the 100kms to race point, Maxim Belkov takes a right-hander too fast and goes sliding away across the tarmac. Lammertink, Marcato and Felline all crash, too; de Backer performs a miracle save via the roadside verge.

Word goes back to the peloton which switches off as a unit, and just trundles down the hill. Wiggins is right at the back again, and rolling over rather too many white road markings for my liking. If he’s worried about crashing, that’s not the best activity …

Cannondale for Viviani and OmegaPharma-QuickStep for Cavendish are keeping the lead pegged around the three minutes mark. The sprinters don’t have too many chances in this Giro, so they don’t want to miss out today.

We’ve got a couple of climbs. First up, is the Muro di Ca’ del Poggio. It’s only 1.2km but the average gradient is 12.2% average and hits a wall-like 16% at times. They used it in the Italian national championships, but thankfully only one appearance on today’s course.

The break struggles up past vineyards in green leaf, and a smattering of fans hunched under multi-colored umbrellas. By the time the peloton reaches the climb, they’re bunched up and the guys at the back are going so slowly, I feel like I’m watching myself climb! It’s an even three minute gap at the top.

It’s just miserable for the riders, splashing through the sodden conditions. We hit 50 kilometers to race and the five up front still have about 2’20” of an advantage. Cannondale are to the fore; so are BMC with Steve Cummings sloshing along in front of Cadel Evans.

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Felline is rocking some retro-looking eyewear, reminiscent of Andy Hampsten’s Gavia-era glasses. The break are on the Montello – Santa Maria della Vittoria now. It’s three kilometers at an average of 6.3% but with pitches up to 14%. Not ideal for maintaining traction when the road is so wet. Over the top, the lead is 2’39” with 40 clicks to go.

Inside 25kms left, and it’s obvious that Wiggins is in big trouble. Suffering from a cold, and in miserable weather, he’s dropped … again. His Sky mates are with him, but the gap yawns, and suddenly he’s two minutes behind the other overall contenders. Then he’s dropped by his own group and has to claw his way back. It looks like the Giro is over for Wiggo.

Sky are doing a demoralised team time trial, seven riders strong, as they hear the bell to herald the closing seven-kilometer lap around Treviso – they’re 2’50” behind. The peloton shows no mercy as OmegaPharma continue to chip away at the five leaders …

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Because of the wet weather, and the twists and turns on the Treviso circuit, the overall GC time is taken at three kilometers to go, so suddenly there’s an easing from the non-sprinters. Cannondale, OPQS and Lotto-Bellisol continue to drive for the fastmen. Wiggins is time-checked at 3’11” – a surely fatal overall blow.

Coming to the red kite, the front five are still hammering, and the bunch haven’t quite got them. Can they make it?!

Felline tries a long one, but there’s no hope. Coming over a little bridge with 400 meters to go, the road narrows. Steegmans lines it up, catches Felline and Cavendish sweeps past. It looks easy … Cavendish wins the stage. Sasha Modolo looks fed-up and waves a hand in the air in protest, but it was not to do with Cav. A clean, decisive win.

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After the line, the Manx Missile looks shattered. That was a hard, hard, day. Three minutes later, Sky roll in looking thoroughly demoralised.

From the shortest stage to the longest tomorrow, and a chance for Cav to make it win #101. Can he do it? Keep it dialled to Pez to find out!

Giro Stage 12 Results, Langarone-Treviso, 134kms
1 Mark Cavendish (IoM) OmegaPharma-QuickStep 3hrs 01 47
2 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ
3 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Argos-Shimano
4 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita)
5 Brett Lancaster (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
6 Manuel Belleti (Ita) Ag2r
7 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
8 Sasha Modolo (Ita) Bardiani-Valvole
9 Ioannis Tamouridis (Gre) Euskaltel
10 Fran Ventoso (Spa) Movistar all same time

Giro d’ Italia Overall After Stage 12
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana 46hrs 28’14”
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team + 41”
3 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Sky Procycling + 2’04”
4 Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco + 2’12”
5 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida + 2’13”
6 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini + 2’55”
7 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida + 3’35”
8 Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar + 4’05”
9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r + 4’17”
10 Rafal Majka (Pol) Saxo-Tinkoff + 4’21”
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