Cycling: Mark Cavendish's brave bid denied by one point
Mark Cavendish's bid to become the sixth rider in cycling history to take the points jersey in all three Grand Tours fell short almost at the final fence yesterday when overall race contender Joaquim Rodriguez deprived the Briton of victory in the Giro d'Italia classification by just one point.
It says much for Cavendish, the winner of the points competition in the Tour in 2011 and the Vuelta in 2010, that he came so close, given that victory in the Giro points competition is far harder for a sprinter than in other Grand Tours. Points are weighted equally on flat and mountain stages; in the last 10 years it has been taken four times by sprinters and six by overall contenders.
However, Cavendish's three stage wins and a second place last week, as well as a determination to make it through to the Giro's finish for the first time since 2008 – rather than make a planned abandon as in 2009 and 2011 – all helped reinforce the Sky rider's overall hold on the points jersey.
"I'm going to fight for this all the way to Milan," Cavendish said on Thursday. He then delivered as he battled through the Giro's two toughest mountain stages, finishing 159th on Friday and 129th on Saturday, but his points jersey bid fell foul of the struggle between the overall contenders.
With a 29-point advantage on Rodriguez on Friday morning, Cavendish could only hope that the Spaniard would not finish in the top stage rankings on the subsequent mountain stages. Unfortunately for the Manxman, that was exactly what happened, Rodriguez's third place on Friday's Dolomites stage and fourth on Saturday pushing him one point ahead of the Briton, and depriving Cavendish of a triumph by the slenderest of margins.
Overall the race was won by Canada's Ryder Hesjedal, wrenching the leader's pink jersey from Rodriguez on yesterday's time trial. Sky still had a lot to celebrate, with Cavendish's string of stage wins and lengthy spell in the red jersey followed up by Colombian Rigoberto Uran's best young rider's jersey for seventh overall – the first time that the British team has netted a final classification award in a Grand Tour.
As team principal Dave Brailsford pointed out, Cavendish's crash and subsequent injuries when sprinting for victory on stage three – caused by blatantly dangerous riding by Italian Roberto Ferrari – "knocked him for six, and without that he would have won the points jersey".
Brailsford added: "One of the remarkable things about Mark is that he didn't mention the pain, he just got on with it. You could see how much it hurt and he showed some real guts fighting his way through so hard, like on the day he finished 40 seconds inside the time cut – that took real courage.
"The way he's been climbing these last few days, he's got stronger and stronger and he's in super shape. All in all, it's looking great for the summer."
Latest in Sport
Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger says he will be 'actively involved' on deadline day... but may not buy a striker despite Giroud injury
Fernando Torres to AC Milan: Jose Mourinho talks up Mattia Destro with Torres on verge of Chelsea exit
Mario Balotelli has been 'spoken to at length' and Liverpool have ensured he lives on Merseyside rather than Manchester
Champions League draw: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City learn group stage fate
Tottenham vs Liverpool: Hugo Lloris expects Spurs to wipe away shame of 4-0 and 5-0 defeats last season
- 2 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 4 Saudi Arabia executes 19 in one half of August in 'disturbing surge of beheadings'
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...
Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...
£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...