Manxman notches up his third podium at his year’s edition.
At the start of stage 13, everybody knew this would be the sprinters’ last opportunity to fight for victory before next week’s stage in Treviso, but that didn’t stop a brave four-man breakaway from forming minutes after the flag was dropped and carving out a massive six-minute advantage over the peloton by the time they reached the bottom of the Colle di Nava climb (10.1km, 6.7%).
After cresting the summit, the fast men’s teams each sent a delegate at the front of the peloton to bring down the gap, which for a large chunk of time remained stuck at five minutes. From that moment on, it was heart-in-mouth stuff all the way until the finish, the bunch unleashing a wild chase. Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl had several men there, and they helped the field clock off about ten seconds per kilometer in the business end of the stage, but the escapees were still favourites to make it, as they carried a one-minute lead into the last ten kilometers.
The situation looked desperate for the bunch, but they continued to push a hard tempo that even split the group at one point. An average gradient of 2% in the closing two kilometers played into the chasers’ favour, who overhauled the four men an agonizingly 500 meters from the line. Despite having to come back from behind, Mark Cavendish produced another incredible sprint and took third place behind Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) in Cuneo, which the race visited for the first time in more than a decade.
“It wasn’t an easy stage, and we had to make sure it would be a sprint at the end of the day. We had to get over the climb, to chase the breakaway, which had a good gap, and the guys were incredible in the work they did. They showed huge commitment, but also a lot of strength and determination, working hard the entire stage, more than it was in their job description. The finale was hard, and coming into the last kilometer I knew I was a bit far back, but I gave everything I had and did the best sprint I could. I’m proud of the boys and their amazing work today”, said Mark after his 23rd top 3 finish at the Giro.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images