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Giro d’Italia stage 12: Cavendish doubles up and retires from the Giro

Stage 12: Castelfidardo to Ravenna, 184km

Mark Cavendish became the first rider to win two stages at this year’s Giro d’Italia as he edged out Sky‘s Davide Appollonio to win stage 12 in Ravenna, his second victory in three days. Afterwards he confirmed that he will now withdraw from the race to recover and prepare for the Tour de France in July.

On an almost entirely flat stage along the Adriatic coast, Michal Golas (Vacansoleil), Davide Ricci Bitti (Farnese Vini), Stef Clement (Rabobank) and Miguel Minguez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) took on the gloriously futile task of being the breakaway group on the day of the final opportunity for the sprinters in this year’s race. They were never allowed to stray too far ahead, and the gap was kept firmly controlled between two and three minutes by an HTC-Highroad-led peloton fully committed to ensuring a bunch sprint, but not wanting to bring the leading quartet back too soon to encourage a counter-attack. Eventually the pack determined it was time to reel in its prey, and brought the game of cat-and-mouse to an end 14km from the finish.

HTC took up the reins at the front, setting an aggressive pace which strung out the peloton into one long line. As they approached a treacherous and technical finish in Ravenna, they were supplemented by AG2R and BMC among others as they fought to keep their key men out of trouble and prevent any risk of the peloton bunching up again. But as they darted into the outskirts of the town, it was a train of four white HTC jerseys who led the way, with Cavendish fourth wheel and Alessandro Petacchi, who won here in 2005, tucked into his slipstream.

They safely negotiated the first few corners, but a crash on a left-hander with 1.5km to go slowed all but the first 20 or so men. HTC forged ahead, depositing Mark Renshaw in the last half-kilometre to position Cavendish for the final charge to the line. Petacchi was unable to follow the Manxman, but Appollonio looked like he might draw alongside only to be dismissed as a second surge in the last 50 metres ensured Cavendish claimed the finish by half a bike length.

Mark Cavendish (right) edges out Sky's Davide Appollonio to win his second stage of the 2011 Giro (image courtesy of Graham Watson)

Cavendish was delighted to win after the hard work put in by is team throughout the day:

Winning today was really important. My team-mates had worked all day with no help at all from any other squad and I wanted to thank them for it by winning. They did an incredible job. Then I started up my sprint with 200 meters to go and I managed to get it.

I’m really pleased. The Giro is a very important race for me, there aren’t any more sprint stages in this year’s race and I really wanted to get another win here.

He also confirmed that he would now return home in preparation for July’s Tour de France. He will watch Saturday’s savage stage finishing atop the Zoncolan at home, where he will be celebrating his 26th birthday.

Petacchi will also not start tomorrow, and conceded he had lost on the day to the faster man:

I tried to beat Cavendish with my head, but his legs were exceptional.

It is a shame for the Giro to lose its top two sprinters – and devalues the points competition somewhat – but with the Tour still to come and no more sprints to contest here, it is clearly the sensible thing to do. Cavendish in particular would probably have struggled to finish inside the time limit at some point anyway.

With virtually the entire peloton being given the same time after the crash, there were no changes at the top of the general classification, as the big contenders steel themselves for big summit finishes in the Dolomites on each of the next three days. Alberto Contador remains in the maglia rosa, 59 seconds ahead of Cavendish’s HTC-Highroad teammate Kanstantsin Sivtsov.

Friday’s Stage 13 from Spilimbergo to Grossglockner, Austria’s highest mountain, covers 167km and features a succession of testing climbs, with the final ascent of the Grossglockner sure to see a concerted attack from one or more of Contador’s main rivals.

Stage 13 profile

Stage 12 result:

1. Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) 4:17:25

2. Davide Appollonio (Sky) same time

3. Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) s/t

4. Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli) s/t

5. Gerald Ciolek (Quick Step) s/t

General classification:

1. Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Sungard) 44:55:16

2. Kanstantsin Sivtsov (HTC-Highroad) +0:59

3. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) +1:21

4. Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervélo) +1:28

5. Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) +1:28

6. David Arroyo (Movistar) +1:37

7. Roman Kreuziger (Astana) +1:41

8. José Serpa (Androni Giocattoli) +1:47

9. Dario Cataldo (Quick Step) +2:21

10 Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil-DCM) +2:21

Points classification:

1. Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) 96 pts

2. Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Sungard) 77

3. Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) 70

4. Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli) 70

5. Davide Appollonio (Sky) 64

Mountains classification:

1. Filippo Savini (Colnago-CSF Inox) 16 pts

2. Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Sungard) 15

3. Bart De Clercq (Omega Pharma-Lotto) 11

4. Martin Kohler (BMC) 10

5. Federico Canuti (Colnago-CSF Inox) 9

Links: Giro d’Italia official websiteSteephill.tv

Giro d’Italia recaps

Stage 1: Pinotti swaps red, white and green for pink

Stage 2: Petacchi celebrates, Cavendish remonstrates in ham-fisted Parma finish

Stage 3: Weylandt’s death casts a long shadow

Stage 4: Peloton rides in tribute to Weylandt

Stage 5: Weening takes maglia rosa as Millar bites the dust

Stage 6: Ale-Jet runs out of gas as Ventoso wins uphill drag

Stage 7: De Clercq claims first professional win by a whisker

Stage 8: Gatto gets the cream as Contador shows his claws

Stage 9: Explosive Contador erupts on Etna

Stage 10: No tow required as Cavendish opens Giro account

Stage 11: Gadret times his finish to perfection

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About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

15 Responses to Giro d’Italia stage 12: Cavendish doubles up and retires from the Giro

  1. Pingback: It seems that Mark Cavendish offers the quintissential picture of the sprinter win « Agnostic views & images I like

  2. I know Cavendish is not the first sprinter to retire from a race after winning a stage or two, but I don’t like it.

    I’d prefer to see a rule that stripped non-finishers of their stage wins and awarded them to whoever came next and also finished the whole course. It seems unfair to me that Cavendish (in this case) gets the plaudits for beating people who are holding something in reserve, knowing they still have a long way to go.

    I could win a stage of an Olympic marathon if I were planning to retire after the first 100 metres. Well, maybe after 15 metres. Maybe not even that…but you get the idea.

    • Tim says:

      I know what you mean, Richard, but I’m okay with Cavendish (and Petacchi, and their respective minders Renshaw and Hondo) pulling out at this stage. The Giro organisers know that they still come a distant second to the Tour. By putting in such a punishing final week without even the carrot of a flat stage at the end they must have known that top sprinters would always withdraw.

      It does at least mean that neither can win the points competition – Petacchi was leading it, but would undoubtedly have lost it to one of the climbers in the mountains. That rather devalues the competition, which is a bit of a shame. But then the Giro has clearly decided in recent years that it wants to be a climber’s race, and has consequently given the sprinters pretty short shrift. Reap what you sow?

      The reality is that, even if he had raced on, Cav would probably have been eliminated on the Zoncolan on Saturday. If you believe Ventoso, then he had some help getting up Etna, and even then barely scraped inside the time limit. Hopefully it means we will see him, Petacchi and others at 100% for the Tour, where there are definitely more opportunities for bunch sprints.

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