Britain’s world champion Mark Cavendish sprinted to victory in the 13th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Friday, as Spain’s Katusha rider Joaquim Rodriguez maintained the overall lead.
Cavendish, of Sky, finished ahead of Norway’s Alexander Kristoff and Mark Renshaw of Australia on the 121km run for his third stage win in this year’s race.
For the 26-year-old Cavendish, it was a seventh stage win of the season and his 10th individual career victory in the Giro in his fourth participation.
Friday’s triumph was also his 33rd career stage win in the three grand tours of Italy, France and Spain.
“The team did a good job, but Geraint [Thomas] and the others lack a bit of experience,” the outspoken Cavendish said. “With a bit of time, our [sprint] train will be perfect.”
“I’m starting to feel good and my form’s getting better. Yes, I think I’ll get to Milan. To those who think I’m a bit fat, I’d just say that I won Milan-Sanremo at 23 and I became world champion at 26. I’ve won 20 stages in the Tour de France and 12 in the Giro [including team time-trials] and I’m only 26. What else can I say?” he added.
Dutch rider Martijn Keizer had set the early pace, escaping for the fourth time in five days, where he was joined by Italy’s Francesco Failli, and the duo built up a 5 minute, 15 seconds lead.
However, the peloton steadily reeled them in, with Cavendish resisting the attentions of Australia’s Matt Goss as a mass sprint built up.
The Giro headed for its first day in the mountains yesterday, with a testing 206km run from Cherasco to Cervinia.
It boasts two stiff climbs at Joux and Cervinia, with the finish line at over 2,000m altitude.
“From tomorrow [yesterday], the peloton will be less nervous and there will be less stress,” Rodriguez said.
“Of all the finishes at altitude, it’s the one at Cervinia that I fear the most. That kind of climb doesn’t suit me very well. And the forecast is for bad weather. I’m expecting an attack from [Ivan] Basso, who said that his Giro would begin at Cervinia,” he added.
TOUR OF CALIFORNIA
AFP, BIG BEAR LAKE, CALIFORNIA
The US’ Dave Zabriskie maintained the overall lead, while France’s Sylvain Georges survived the grueling mountain terrain to win the sixth stage of the Tour of California on Friday.
Georges (Ag2r-La Mondiale), 28, claimed his fifth career victory after pedaling alone in the lead for the final 48km en route to his title in 5 hours, 7 minutes and 6 seconds.
“The most difficult thing about the final kilometers was in my head,” Georges said. “I hurt everywhere. I was starting to go cross-eyed and getting cramps, but I was able to focus and fight through it. It was the hardest 15km of my life.”
Peter Sagan of Slovakia finished second by 28 seconds in the stage that featured four different climbs. Countryman Peter Velits finished third. Sagan won the first four stages.
Zabriskie (Garmin-Barracuda) took the race lead with a dominating individual time trial win in stage five.
He finished 21st in the main field and maintained a 34-second race lead over fellow American Tejay van Garderen.
Georges formed part of an escape group after 1.5km, but found himself alone at the top of the final climb of the day.
He held on for the win despite a forceful three-man counter attack, containing Wilco Kelderman, Pieter Weening and Jeremy Vennell, that eventually got swept up in the final kilometers.