Friday, May 22, 2009

Mark Cavendish wins his third stage

Going into the mostly flat stage 13 into Firenze, most were expecting a sprint finish, perhaps the last one of this year's Giro d'Italia since all the remaining stages will finish atop mountains or not too long after a major climb. Mark Cavendish obviously got the message as his Team Columbia-High Road delivered him, with perfect timing, to the finish line for his third stage win of this Giro d'Italia.

Three men decided today might be their day and attacked at kilometer 12, successfully getting off the front in a breakaway. Leonardo Scarselli (ISD), Mikhail Ignatiev (Team Katusha) and Björn Schröder (Team Milram) spent most of the rest of the day working together.

Schröder struck out on his own, leaving his break companions behind with about 30km to go. He hung on bravely at the front until 5km to go when the peloton, filled with stage-hungry sprinters, ate him up.

Columbia and Garmin Slipstream were among the teams that drove the chase effort. The speeding peloton scooped up Schröder with just over 5km to go.

With 300m to go, The Columbia train was all lined up, winding it up for its star sprinter Cavendish. Edvald Boasson Hagen took the final pull before peeling off. Italian Alessandro Petacchi (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini) made a good effort to come around, but he wasn't strong enough and ended up in second. Cavendish's win came one day after his birthday.

Allan Davis (Quick Step), Robert Hunter (Barloworld) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin - Slipstream) finished third through fifth.

All the favorites for the overall stayed out of trouble on the mostly flat stage, causing no changes in the general classification. Rabobank's Denis Menchov retained his lead over former maglia rosa Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini) and Levi Leipheimer (Astana).

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