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
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory