Cycling: Stage goes downhill as tired Mark Cavendish lets slip in Giro d'Italia


It was mostly downhill
in stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia this afternoon as the riders descended a
total of 900metres and Mark Cavendish narrowly lost out on a fourth
stage win.  

Pipped at the line by Andrea Guardini of team Farnese Vini, the Team Sky sprinter was able to hold off Roberto Ferrari to claim second. But the triumph over the Italian that caused him to crash heavily two weeks ago will be of little consolidation.

With only two mountain stages and the closing time trial remaining, today was the sprinters’ last chance to snatch a win. For Cavendish, who leads the points classification with just 29 points over Joaquim Rodriguez, it was also his last stab at securing the red jersey.

The world champion won an intermediate sprint to claim eight points and his second place was worth 20 points. But Rodriguez is expect to perform well in the two remaining mountain stages and so the Briton's lead hangs in the balance, entirely out of his control. 

Approaching the finish line, the peloton wrestled at high speed through the streets of Vedelago and looked more disorganised than it has yet, with most teams desperately pushing their men to the front.  

But it was Saxo Bank that emerged strongest in the run into the finish line. Organising with 3km to go, their six riders powered through and swung left to cut off the building Team Sky charge. With up to 20 men in front of him, Cavendish seemed boxed in and lacked room for manoeuvre as he rubbed shoulders with those around him. 

At one kilometre to go, a two-man lead-out from Team Sky regained the lead and Geraint Thomas provided a strong final effort to bring Cavendish down the home straight ahead of the bunch. But, with a sea of sprinters hot on the world champion’s tail, it was Guardini that timed his electrifying burst perfectly.

Crossing the line, a disgruntled Cavendish took a side swipe at the air. After a draining day in the Dolomite Mountains, it seems he couldn’t quite muster his trademark turn of speed. 

Team Sky workhorse Ian Stannard pushed hard to close down two small breakaways today, but it was a heroic last-ditch attempt by Danish time trial champion Lars Bak that proved most formidable – not because it was dangerous, but because it was daring.  The stage 12 winner has attracted admiration by the bucket-load for constant breakaway efforts in this year's Giro. “He continues to push himself,” said Saxo Bank manager Bjarne Riis, and today was no exception.

With just 13km to go, Bak shot off the front of the charging pack to hone in on solo breakaway rider Mikael Delage. Sitting at no more than 15 seconds ahead of the pack, Bak dug deep, crouching in the mock timetrial hunch – his head buried and his forearms resting precariously on the handlebars.

With 4kilometres to go, he was inevitably swallowed up by the bunch, but it takes a tough rider to mount such an audacious attack with such conviction. Expect him to be marked as hot property come the end of the season.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power