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 'optimistic' of making signing, Grzegorz Krychowiak and Edinson Cavani linked
Manchester United have two days to seal the transfer of the summer, Arsenal need to panic, Jose Mourinho right to blast Chelsea reluctance
Celtic supporters mock Fenerbahce fans' threatening 'knife' pictures with their own versions - featuring spoons and bananas
Swansea 2 Manchester United 1 player ratings: Was Andre Ayew the Swans' star man or did Bafetimbi Gomis steal the show?
Anthony Martial to Manchester United: United 'open talks' with £36m Monaco striker as Javier Hernandez joins Bayer Leverkusen
- 1 VMAs 2015: Was Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus' awkward acceptance put-down real or staged?
- 3 Rules on 5p plastic bags likely to lead to arguments at the check-out
- 4 Chaos breaks out in courtroom as father attacks killer of three-year-old daughter
- 5 I like Corbyn, but let's face it: we don't need another white man at the head of a political party
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...
£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...