Giro d'Italia 2013: Mark Cavendish wins first stage in sprint finish

 

Giro d'Italia

  • Dates: 4-26 May (13 and 20 May are rest days)

Coverage: Live commentary on the final hours of each stage on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra or online; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Britain's Mark Cavendish won the opening stage of the Giro d'Italia in a dramatic sprint finish in Naples.

Cavendish looked to be in trouble when his lead-out man faltered in the final sprint, but the Omega Pharma-Quickstep rider edged Elia Viviani on the line.

It is his 11th stage win in the Italian race and he will wear the leader's pink jersey for a fourth time on Sunday.

Sir Bradley Wiggins was 18 seconds back after being held up by a crash but he was given the same time as Cavendish.

The accident, which involved fellow Brit David Millar, who rides for Garmin, occurred in the final three kilometres of the stage and race officials eventually applied the neutralising rule which states that those riders who were in the leading bunch, but held up by a crash, should be awarded the same time as the winner.

Team Sky's Wiggins is aiming to become the first British winner of the Giro d'Italia, having won the Tour de France in 2012.

The 130km first stage, which featured 207 riders, began and ended in Naples, with Cavendish coming out on top in a dash for the line after eight laps of a short city circuit.

Analysis

"Cavendish's sprint was perfect despite his lead-out man Steegmans having a mechanical. It left Cav on the back foot and he had a bit of ground to make up and he thoroughly deserved it. He has a decent lead so he could stay in the pink jersey after Sunday's team time trial.

"Team Sky rode well and did a lot of work to keep Wiggins out of trouble. He got caught behind the crash at the end but so did his main rivals so there is no bother as they will make up the time difference on the guys in front of them. He was never going to win the race today but he didn't want to lose any time to Nibali or Hesjedal.

"It was a difficult, difficult stage for me," he said.

"It was not easy with all the corners but the team did incredible to stay at the front. We didn't get it quite right at the end and Gert [Steegmans] had a mechanical in the final kilo which we need to look at.

"They are costing us too many races. It was really, really hot out there but I wanted it so bad.

"I came here to win sprints and I've started the race the way I wanted to."

Cavendish, who is competing in his fifth Giro d'Italia and wore the race leader's jersey for two days in 2009 and for one day in 2011, had been kept near the front of the peloton for much of the opening stage which saw an early breakaway of seven riders.

Australia's Cameron Wurf, riding for the Italian-based Canondale team, then took off on his own and was only caught with 18km or so remaining.

A crash in the final couple of kilometres splintered the peloton but Cavendish was unaffected and he was left to contest the sprint finish with around 10 other riders.

Matthew Goss looked in prime position to take the stage win with a good lead-out from his Orica GreenEdge team-mates but the Australian was left trailing as first Viviani powered past.

However, hopes of a home winner were dashed on the line by Cavendish, leaving a clearly frustrated Viviani banging his handlebars while France's Nacer Bouhanni finished third.

Cavendish recorded a time of two hours, 58 minutes, 38 seconds but as stage winner he picks up a 20-second bonus, with Viviani collecting a 12-second bonus and Bouhanni eight seconds.

Wiggins came home in the peloton with Canada's defending champion Ryder Hesjedal and Italy's Vincenzo Nibali and they are all therefore 20 seconds behind the race leader.

Britain's Adam Blythe, riding for BMC Racing, finished a creditable seventh, while compatriots Alex Dowsett and David Millar were both involved in crashes during a nervy day's racing, but were able to finish.

Movistar rider Dowsett tweeted:  "That was hectic! Quite literally walked away from two crashes, Laid the bike down & stepped off, Bum never touched the floor. Nice."

Meanwhile, Millar, who was caught in the crash near the end of the stage, tweeted:  "I love crashing the first day of a Grand Tour: glut & shoulder bruised to hell, bike broken: Congrats Mark Cavendish, delivers as usual."

Sunday's second stage is a 17.4km team time trial on the island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples.

Stage one standings:

1. Mark Cavendish (GB/Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) 2:58:38"

2. Elia Viviani (Ita/Cannondale) same time

3. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra/FDJ)

4. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita/RadioShack)

5. Matthew Goss (Aus/Orica)

6. Francisco Ventoso (Spa/Movistar)

7. Adam Blythe (GB/BMC Racing)

8. Leigh Howard (Aus/Orica)

9. Danilo Hondo (Ger/RadioShack)

10. Brett Lancaster (Aus/Orica)

Selected others:

25. Cadel Evans (Aus/BMC Racing)

29. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana)

58. Alex Dowsett (GB/Movistar)

63. Ryder Hesjedal (Can/Garmin)

64. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Sky)

176. Steve Cummings (GB/BMC Racing )

204. David Millar (GB/Garmin-Sharp)

General Classification:

1. Mark Cavendish (GB/Omega Pharma-QuickStep) 2:58.18

2. Elia Viviani (Ita/Cannondale) +8"

3. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra/FDJ) +12"

4. Danilo Hondo (Ger/RadioShack-Leopard) +16"

5. Marco Marcato (Ita/Vacansoleil) +18"

Selected others:

9. Adam Blythe (GB/BMC Racing) +20"

25. Cadel Evans (Aus/BMC Racing)

29. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana)

58. Alex Dowsett (GB/Movistar)

63. Ryder Hesjedal (Can/Garmin)

64. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Sky)

176. Steve Cummings (GB/BMC Racing)

204. David Millar (GB/Garmin-Sharp)