Stage 17 – Caravaggio – Vicenza – 214km
22 May 2013
Report: Eddie Allen
British Cycling’s Mark Cavendish remained in red following stage 17 despite missing out on the sprint after losing contact with the main group on the climb of the Crosara.
Above: Mark Cavendish hangs on in red.
Thanks to points gained on intermediate sprints, Cavendish managed to stay ahead of Cadel Evans in the points competition despite the Australian finishing tenth on the stage and collecting points of his own. The win went to Giovanni Visconti who took his second stage of the race after attacking on the final climb of the day and overhauling the remnants of an earlier breakaway.
The 214 kilometre stage from Caravaggio to Vicenza represented the penultimate opportunity for Cavendish to score big in the points classification - the sprint stage into Brescia on Sunday his final chance after Thursday’s time trial and two monster mountain stages on Friday and Saturday.
Following stage 16, Cavendish clung to the red jersey by just six points after second placed Cadel Evans picked up points in the bunch sprint with Cavendish dropped on the final climb. Stage 17’s profile was flat apart from a fourth category climb close to its climax – a potential fly in the ointment for Cavendish and his fellow sprinters. If the Manxman is to make safe his maglia rosso passione, a win was essential.
Maxim Belkov, Luke Durbridge, Gert Dockx and Miguel Rubiano broke away after just a few kilometres but initially the quartet wasn’t being given much leeway by the Omega Pharma Quick Step led peloton. However, the gap increased to over five minutes as the first intermediate sprint at San Bonifacio (150km) approached.
Despite the efforts of the chasing pack, the break still had five minutes at San Bonifacio where Belkov hoovered up maximum points. A few minutes later, Cavendish silenced those who doubted his appetite for the maglia rosso, springing from the group to snaffle two points for fifth, a mere morsel that perhaps may prove decisive come Brescia.
It was a déjà vu in Orgiano, the scene of intermediate sprint two, with Belkov netting maximum sprint points while Cavendish took fifth place at the head of the bunch, increasing his points lead to ten over Evans. Up ahead of the break, the climb of Crosara loomed but behind the bunch was baying, the gap beginning to wither as Belkov sat up and left his breakaway companions to it.
Onto the climb and the breakaway imploded, first Donckx and then Durbridge dropping away, leaving Rubiano alone. The Colombian wasn’t lonesome for long, joined by Vini Fantini’s Danilo Di Luca. Galibier victor Giovanni Visconti made it three as the summit approached. The Movistar rider was strong, taking the mountain points at the summit while behind, Di Luca faded. Meanwhile Cavendish had dropped off the back of the maglia rosa group, losing over a minute over Evans, the British rider’s teammates falling back in support of their team leader in an effort to regain lost ground.
In the end it was too much to ask for Cavendish as up ahead, Visconti forged on alone for a second solo stage victory. Evans sprinted in for tenth place, earning six points but all was not lost and thanks to points scored earlier in the day, Cavendish finished the stage in red, albeit with a slender four point lead, leaving the Omega Pharma Quick Step rider with it all to do in Brescia.
Cavendish now faces a 19km time trial and two mountain stages – a chance for Evans to challenge for red - however the Australian will have the maglia rosa contest on his mind, lying as he does in second position behind Vincenzo Nibali.
1 VISCONTI Giovanni Movistar Team 05:15:34
2 NAVARDAUSKAS Ramunas Garmin - Sharp @ 00:19
3 MEZGEC Luka Team Argos - Shimano "
4 POZZATO Filippo Lampre - Merida "
5 HONDO Danilo RadioShack - Leopard "
6 PUCCIO Salvatore Sky Procycling "
7 MODOLO Sacha Bardiani Valvole - CSF Inox "
8 FELLINE Fabio Androni - Venezuela "
9 VENTOSO ALBERDI Francisco José Movistar Team "
10 EVANS Cadel BMC Racing Team "
Points Classification after stage 17
1 CAVENDISH Mark Omega Pharma - Quick-Step 113
2 EVANS Cadel BMC Racing Team 109
3 SANTAMBROGIO Mauro Vini Fantini 89
4 VISCONTI Giovanni Movistar Team 86
5 BETANCUR GOMEZ Carlos Alberto AG2R La Mondiale 85
6 NIBALI Vincenzo Astana Pro Team 78
7 URAN Rigoberto Sky Procycling 76
8 VIVIANI Elia Cannondale Pro Cycling Team 72
9 BELKOV Maxim Katusha Team 71
10 NAVARDAUSKAS Ramunas Garmin - Sharp 65