Cycling: Cavendish has mountains to climb
When the world champion Mark Cavendish delivered a knockout bunch sprint to claim his 10th Giro d'Italia stage of his career and 33rd Grand Tour win yesterday it was very much business as usual – however, the Manxman then created a far greater surprise by announcing he would not be making a widely expected exit.
Cavendish quit the Giro in 2009 after stage 13 and again after stage 12 in 2011, on both occasions so he could avoid the toughest mountain stages and rest up before the Tour de France.
But when asked by Italian television if he would be staying in this Giro into the third week, Cavendish confirmed he would remain, perhaps even as far as the finish at Milan on 27 May.
One possible reason for Cavendish's decision to continue is that he is leading the points competition: if he does make it to Milan on top of that classification, he will have taken the points jersey in all three major Tours.
There is also the question of the Olympic road race, which features repeated assaults of a short but tough mid-race ascent at Box Hill in Surrey: Cavendish has been working on improving his climbing for the last three years, and racing through the Alps and Dolomites in the third week of the Giro could well form part of that process.
If the Sky rider tore up the script after the stage, the victory in itself was textbook Cavendish, with a three-man lead-out from Sky into the final, flat, straight kilometre at Cervere in Piedmont and Britons Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas forming a key part of the process.
The Briton was all but blocked in the finale on the left-hand side with about 150 metres to go. But showing his usual technical ability and strength, he first managed to brake sharply enough to avoid a crash (which would have been his third in this year's accident-torn Giro) and then as Australian rival Matt Goss went right, Cavendish powered away to claim his third victory of this year's Giro.
"It wasn't perfect, but Goss opened a gap so I could get through and go for it," Cavendish said, before discussing his lack of a definitively designated team-mate as a key wingman – the "leadout" man – to guide him in the final metres – which would perhaps have made a difference in those tricky last 150m. "At the moment I've had a different leadout man in each race I've been in, but I've got the best team-mates in the world. The most you can ask from a team-mate is commitment, and these guys are 100 per cent committed."
Latest in Sport
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Eden Hazard exclusive interview - All is rosy in the garden of Eden
Chelsea vs Tottenham combined XI: Hugo Lloris or Thibaut Courtois? Willian or Christian Eriksen? Who makes the final cut?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Theo Walcott 'involved in spat' with fans after Champions League defeat
Robbie Savage avoids driving ban - because he would get 'accosted' too much if he had to use public transport
Carl Frampton vs Chris Avalos; Tyson Fury vs Christian Hammer; Dmitry Chudinov vs Chris Eubank Jr - boxing on TV this weekend
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 Saudi Muslim cleric claims the Earth is 'stationary' and the sun rotates around it
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...
£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...
£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...