Giro d'Italia: Stage 17 as it happened

Italy's Giovanni Visconti wins his second stage at the 2013 Giro d'Italia as Mark Cavendish stays in the red points jersey

22 May 2013 Last updated at 17:15

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As it happened

  1. 1711: 

    Right, I'm off. You can read the report about what happened in today's stage here, and more reaction and analysis will be added there later.

    In fact, that's me done for this year's Giro. Peter Scrivener will see you through the Dolomites and to the finish in Brescia on Sunday, starting with Thursday's time trial. Thanks for keeping me company and hope to see you for the Tour de France, which is not far off now...

  2. 1706: 
    No regrets for Cav

    Here is the Manx Missile, Mark Cavendish on missing out on his fifth stage win of the 2013 Giro after losing ground on the climb before the finish: "Any regrets? No. There was nothing we could have done more.

    "There are those climbs that put sprinters on limit and those climbs that are just too hard and that was one of them today.

    "We knew it was going to be hard but we thought we would try anyway. It was hard and I cracked on the climb. The guys stayed with me and we went for it until the last bend but, once we were in the second group, no-one was going to help us. It was a deserved win for Giovanni Visconti."

  3. 1702:  
    Pink Jersey, Giro d'Italia leader

    It's very much as we were at the top of the general classification. Just four stages left now, starting with Thursday's time-trial.

    1. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy / Astana) 73:11:29"

    2. Cadel Evans (Australia / BMC Racing) +1:26"

    3. Rigoberto Uran (Colombia / Team Sky) +2:46"

    4. Michele Scarponi (Italy / Lampre) +3:53"

    5. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Poland / Lampre) +4:13"

  4. 1659: 

    Speaking of Cav, he has just been handed his red jersey and looks cheerful enough as he waves to the crowd.

  5. 1657: 

    Evans has got three mountain stages to come, when he is likely to pick up more points. Cavendish is not going to get any, until the final day in Brescia.

  6. 1655: 
    Red Jersey, Giro d'Italia points category

    Cadel Evans was 10th home today, earning him six points towards the red jersey. That means he is only four behind Cavendish - and makes it even more important that the Manxman nicked exactly four points in those intermediate sprints today.

    1. Mark Cavendish (GB/Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) 113

    2. Cadel Evans (Australia/BMC Racing) 109

    3. Mauro Santambrogio (Italy/Vini Fantini) 89

    4. Carlos Betancur (Colombia/AG2R) 85

    5. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy/Astana) 78

  7. 1650: 
    Results of stage 17

    1. Giovanni Visconti (Italy/Movistar) 5:15:34"

    2. Ramunas Navardauskas (Lithuania/Garmin) +19"

    3. Luka Mezgec (Slovenia/Argos) SAME TIME

    4. Filippo Pozzato (Italy/Lampre)

    5. Danilo Hondo (Germany/RadioShack)

  8. 1646:  
    Rob Hayles, Former GB cyclist and 5 live sports extra commentator

    "Cavendish was in a big group but he still finished just over a minute and a half down on Visconti."

  9. 1645: 

    Here comes Cav. No points for him this time.

  10. 1644:  
    Rob Hayles, Former GB cyclist and 5 live sports extra commentator

    "I cannot believe the effort Visconti put in there, especially after his ride to win the stage up Galibier on Sunday."

  11. 1643: 
    CHAMPAGNE MOMENT- Giovanni Visconti wins stage 17

    That's a hat-trick of wins for the Movistar team.

  12. 1643: 

    250m to go for Visconti. Just a 90 degree left-hand bend and then he is home and dry.

  13. 1642: 

    If Visconti holds on, it will be Movistar's third straight stage win, and his second this week.

  14. 1641: 

    Visconti almost comes a cropper as he goes round a bend that was a lot tighter than thought. He almost stops but he still has a lead of 22 seconds with 1.5km to go.

  15. 1641: 

    Michele Scarponi, chasing a podium place, attacks. The big-hitters respond and reel him in.

  16.   
    Rob Hayles, Former GB cyclist and 5 live sports extra commentator

    "Giovanni Visconti is holding on much better at the front than I expected him to, especially with all these attacks going on behind him."

  17.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Steve in Atherstone: Objective 1 for Cav is to ensure he catches Evans.

  18. 1637: 

    More attacks off the front of the maglia rosa group - riders keep darting clear and they are strung out all over the road. No moves from the big hitters at the top of the general classification yet, but plenty of dog-fighting going on. Giovanni Visconti, meanwhile, is 23 seconds clear with 3.7km to go.

  19. 1635: 

    It's not looking too clever for Mark Cavendish here. He is running out of road, and not making any ground on the men in front of him.

  20. 1635:  
    Rob Hayles, Former GB cyclist and 5 live sports extra commentator

    "All the attacks coming off this maglia rosa group mean they are going faster and faster and that will make it very difficult for anyone chasing it, including Mark Cavendish."

  21. 1634: 

    The maglia rosa group is splintering fast, with attacks going off the front of it left, right and centre. A lot of people fancy this stage win. There are 9km to go, and Visconti is 25 seconds clear.

  22. 1632: 

    The maglia rosa group containing Vincenzo Nibali, Cadel Evans and Rigoberto Uran are closing in on Miguel Angel Rubiano and are close to gobbling him up.

    Nibali and co are 28 seconds behind Visconti, which is unlikely to be enough for him to stay clear on the flat.

    Cav and co are another 70 seconds back, with 10km to go. "It's doable for them," says Rob Hayles on BBC radio 5 live sports extra, "but it is a very big ask"

  23. 1628: 

    At the front of the race, Giovanni Visconti continues to hurtle down this hill. He will have about 8km to go to the finish line when he gets to the bottom. Remember there are a fair few twists and turns on the flat to negotiate too.

  24. 1626: 

    Here's Cav... he is a minute-and-a-half down on Visconti, and on his way down Crosara. He has a couple of Omega Pharma-Quick Step team-mates with him... actually make that four.

  25. 1625: 

    Where's Cav? I don't know. No sign of him yet.

  26. 1624: 

    Giovanni Visconti won on the Galibier over the weekend and he is clearly after another stage win here. The Movistar rider is 16 seconds clear of Miguel Angel Rubiano and 30 seconds clear of the maglia rosa group.

  27. 1622: 

    We are into the last 18km. Visconti has caught Di Luca and Miguel Angel Rubiano, and Di Luca has dropped off the pace. The front two are nearing the top of the climb.

  28. 1620:  
    Rob Hayles, Former GB cyclist and 5 live sports extra commentator

    "I don't think Cavendish is too far behind but I am just a bit worried he has gone a little too much over his limit because that is when he might lose some time."

  29. 1619: 

    Giovanni Visconti attacks off the front of the peloton - or what is left of it. A few seconds up the road - only about 10 actually - Miguel Angel Rubiano has been caught by Danielo Di Luca.

  30. 1618: 

    Cav is hanging on to the back of the maglia rosa group. He is gritting his teeth and giving everything. It is clearly hurting a lot - but still another 3km to go to the top.

  31. 1617: 

    The good news is that Mark Cavendish is still going well too, about 30 from the front of the peloton.

  32. 1615: 

    I think Miguel Angel Rubiano is about to get some company in the shape of Danielo Di Luca, who goes past Durbridge and Dockx as if they are stationary. Di Luca is shifting so much that he is now only 25 seconds behind Rubiano.

  33. 1614: 

    More problems for the escapees. Australia's Luke Durbridge has chosen the wrong gear to go up Crosara and he is going up it the same way I used to tackle Highgate Hill - through treacle. Gert Dockx has also blown up and that just leaves Miguel Angel Rubiano on his own up front.

  34. 1611: 

    Here comes that Vini Fantini attack... Alessandro Proni is joined by team-mate Danielo Di Luca as they try to get away from the peloton.

  35. 1609: 

    Meanwhile, up the road and at the bottom of the hill, our three escapees are desperately pedalling away. With 22.5km to go, their lead has been whittled down to just a single minute.

  36. 1607: 

    All the big hitters at the top of the general classification are up at the front of the peloton too, well near it anyway because there is only enough room on the road for two cyclists to ride abreast. Vincenzo Nibali, the race leader in pink, is closely followed by Cadel Evans and Rigoberto Uran, who lie second and third overall. They are watching for any move from the Vini Fantini crew - which is now four-strong.

  37.   
    Rob Hayles, Former GB cyclist and 5 live sports extra commentator

    "This situation has got a Vini Fantini attack written all over it. They have got two men up there at the front, and two more are moving up."

  38. 1604: 

    Cav is still up there too, surrounded by men wearing luminous yellow. Vini Fantini's men to watch are Danilo Di Luca and Mauro Santambrogio, who lost a lot of time on Tuesday. Will they both attack today?

    The roads are still narrow and the bends are getting tighter... the pack are about to start the ramp up to the top of Crosara.

  39. 1603: 

    So, Maxim Belkov has blown a gasket. That leaves Miguel Angel Rubiano (Androni), Gert Dockx (Lotto) and Luke Durbridge (Orica) at the front of the race. With 27.5km to go, they are one minute and 11 seconds clear of the peloton, which is being led by the Vini Fantini team.

  40. 1602: 

    A reminder of who Mark Cavendish's rivals will be if this stage does go to a bunch sprint. IF...

    Movistar's hopes rest with Fran Ventoso, who has won a stage in each of the past two Giro. Argos will try to set up Luka Mezgec now that John Degenkolb has abandoned through exhaustion, and Cannondale's main man is Elia Viviani.

  41. 1558: 

    The good news for Mark Cavendish, then, is that he is right at the front of the peloton, about fifth man back.

  42.   
    Rob Hayles, Former GB cyclist and 5 live sports extra commentator

    "The road has narrowed for the peloton now. If you are not at the front now, you have got no chance of passing anybody for the next few kilometres."

  43. 1557: 

    Movement in the breakaway quartet as they hit the first slopes of Crosara. It's Russia's Maxim Belkov, and he is going backwards...

  44.   
    Rob Hayles, Former GB cyclist and 5 live sports extra commentator

    "This road looks like you can just about get a car down it but there is not a lot of room either side. You can probably get about three or four bikes abreast it but no more than that."

  45. 1551: 

    That gap to the front four keeps coming down by the way, and it is now only one minute and 30 seconds with 34km to go. I wonder if they realise they are toast? Probably.

    Anyway, let's think about the finish. The bumpy stuff starts with out 30km to go, with the climb to Crosara starting about 22km from home. The teams are jostling for positions at the front of the peloton because the roads are not the widest.

  46. 1549: 
    Red Jersey, Giro d'Italia points category
    Paul Smith and Mark Cavendish

    Cav's lead goes up to 10 points. Well done Cav. British fashion designer Paul Smith designed all the leaders' jerseys at this year's Giro and something tells me he was pleased to see the Manxman wearing the red version when they met at the stage start this morning.

    1. Mark Cavendish (GB/Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) 113

    2. Cadel Evans (Australia/BMC Racing) 103

    3. Carlos Betancur (Colombia/AG2R) 85

    4. Mauro Santambrogio (Italy/Vini Fantini) 84

    5. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy/Astana) 78

  47. 1546: 

    Job done. Cav gets two more points... just the 25 at the finish line to go now!

  48.  
    GET INVOLVED

    TimC: If Cadel is really after the points jersey then surely there would at least be a BMC rider contesting the intermediates wouldn't there?

  49. 1544: 
    Red Jersey, Giro d'Italia points category

    We are coming up to the second intermediate sprint... Cav is near the front of the peloton again... two more points up for grabs.

  50. 1539:  
    BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

    Rob and Simon drove the final few km of the stage to the finish line earlier today, on their way to their commentary position in Vicenza.

    Even when the road flattens on the way down Crosara, there are some nasty twists and turns to take in before the finish, including a 90 degree bend 250m away from the finish line. Something tells me we are in for a very exciting finish...

  51.   
    Rob Hayles, Former GB cyclist and 5 live sports extra commentator

    "The hill at the end of today's stage is a 5.5km climb, it is classed as the lowest category climb, but it steps up halfway and becomes a 13% gradient. It is up and down and not a steady climb and not overly technical either, which could help the sprinters.

    Mark Cavendish's Omega Pharma-Quick Step team are riding on the front with Argos and Cannondale. They want the win, let's hope they get it, but it is certainly not done and dusted for Cav."

  52.   
    Simon Brotherton, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra commentator
    Simon Brotherton at the finish line in Vicenza

    On Twitter, from sunny Vicenza: "The Italians know how to celebrate their favourite bike race. Be rude not to try one." #girogelato

  53. 1529:  
    BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

    BBC Radio 5 live sports extra commentary is about to get under way (from 15:30 BST) with Simon Brotherton and Rob Hayles. The link will appear on the right-hand side of this page or on the cycling index.

  54. 1524: 

    Just so we don't forget, there have been four riders at the front of the race since the 6km mark: Miguel Angel Rubiano (Androni), Gert Dockx (Lotto), Luke Durbidge (Orica) and Maxim Belkov (Katusha).

    They have now covered 160km of the 214km route, but their lead is dwindling fast - it is now down to just under three minutes and 20 seconds.

  55. 1521: 

    Cav sped out to the front of the peloton to get those two points... I'm pretty sure he will do the same at the next intermediate sprint too, which comes at Orgiano, with 42km to go. Nobody challenged Cav last time, wonder if they will next time?

  56. 1518: 
    Red Jersey, Giro d'Italia points category
    Mark Cavendish

    Those two points for Cav means he now leads by eight points in the battle for the red jersey. There are 25 up for grabs for the stage win today.

    1. Mark Cavendish (GB/Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) 111

    2. Cadel Evans (Australia/BMC Racing) 103

    3. Carlos Betancur (Colombia/AG2R) 85

    4. Mauro Santambrogio (Italy/Vini Fantini) 84

    5. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy/Astana) 78

  57. 1516: 

    and he takes them too.

  58. 1515: 

    The peloton are approaching the intermediate sprint. Cav wants these two points...

  59.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Jon in Cheshire: With Omega riders taking it in turns at the front today, gets me thinking. Can anyone really imagine Wiggins putting a shift in at the Tour de France to catch a breakaway whilst Froome in the yellow jersey gets carried along in the peloton. Also, come on Cav. It's only a pimple at the end of today's stage to get over before the sprint...

  60. 1511: 
    OUCH!
  61.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Freddie Higgs: Re Ian. Cav has got a good chance for red jersey if he wins here. Only 3 wins in total last year - and there are 25 points for a stage win.

    Mark Davis: Re Ian. Cav was leading up to the last two days last year. However of note is the two sprints where Cav was totalled by other riders last year.

  62. 1505: 

    It's becoming apparent that Mark Cavendish's Omega Pharma-Quick Step team are not the only ones eyeing success in the bunch sprint today, and a few other teams are trying to make sure we get one.

    Movistar (whose sprint hopes rest with Fran Ventoso), Argos (with Luka Mezgec) and Cannondale (with Elia Viviani) are all heavily involved in the chase.

    The gap to the front four is coming down, slowly, and now stands at four minutes and 48 seconds, with 69km to go.

  63. 1500: 

    There is an intermediate sprint coming up for the peloton, which is now banging along at a rate of knots. Whoever 'wins' it will only get two points, because the four escapees will get there first, but if Cav is near the front anyway then he might show an interest.

  64.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Potato: Re. 1414 disagree; Evans clearly cycling for points, though podium is big priority. Big Cav fan, but fair enough for Cadel to have a go.

  65. 1455: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Justin in Kent: If Cav contests the sprint he will win. His conversion rate is frightening which is why sometimes other sprinters just sit up.

  66. 1451: 

    Can anyone help Ian out? In the meantime, Cav's Omega Pharma-Quick Step team have decided to crank things up at the front of the peloton. Movistar and Argos are right up there too.

    With 76km to go, the gap is not growing anymore. It is stuck around the five minute mark.

  67.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Ian from Rochester: Quick questions about Cav. How many points did he have at this stage last year when he ended up losing by a point? How many points clear was he? How many points are available today / each stage? Thanks guys, enjoying the coverage!

  68. 1445: 

    I've just seen Cav, chatting away into his radio. No cause for concern, yet, but the gap to the front four keeps growing - it is up to more than five minutes now, with 82km to go. The climb I have been talking about starts about 30km from the end - there is a bit of 'up and down' before they go up the ramp, so to speak.

  69. 1441: 

    In answer to Mat: Unlikely... the bump at the end of today's stage is not as demanding as the one yesterday, when the GC boys were at the front and had a little pop.

    In answer to Hannah: It looks like they will be giving it a go. Which is good news.

    In answer to Paul: Er, blimey!

    In answer to Dave: I don't think he even got a slice, which is a shame. It looked really nice too.

  70.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Mat: Gotta fancy Cav he can do these types of climbs but will one of the GC contenders attack on it?

    Hannah in Oxford: YES! Cav is on fire at the moment. I think if OPQS can pull him over that hill with the peloton then he will win it for them.

    Paul CG: "Cav will win today. Why? It's in the stars. He turned 28 on 21/05/2013, right? (21+5+2013)/28 = 72.8. This is the exact speed in km/h I expect him to need to reach in the sprint today to cross the finish line first. Avanti, Cav!"

    Dave, Southport: Can Cav win today? Depends how much of that cake he ate yesterday! But yes hope he does do it again and again and again...

  71. 1431: 

    Back on the road, the gap to the front four has gone up to more than four minutes, with 92km to go.

    The escapees are Miguel Angel Rubiano (Androni), Gert Dockx (Lotto), Luke Durbidge (Orica) and Maxim Belkov (Katusha), who are all making a good go of it, but they will need a much bigger cushion than this if they are going to stay away to the end.

  72.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Decal Dungeon: Re. Rob, Worksop: In short, yes. Cadel has had a raft of top three finishes with more to come in the mountains. It's a two horse race.

  73. 1425:  
    Pink Jersey, Giro d'Italia leader

    It's safe to say that Cav will not be looking forward to his visit to the Dolomites, starting with Thursday's uphill time-trial, followed by two summit finishes on Friday and Saturday.

    I know a man who is, though. Race leader Vincenzo Nibali, who looks very strong and extremely comfortable in the pink jersey he has worn since stage eight, is hoping to cap his overall victory with a stage win.

    "I'll be looking to win on all three stages, but if I can only take one, I'll be happy," Nibali said after Tuesday's stage. "My team (Astana) haven't had a stage win yet, and that's one objective I want to achieve before the finish."

  74. 1421: 

    If... and it's a big IF... Cav does pull off his fifth stage win of this Giro today, then he will also pick up a tidy 25 points. With the race heading back into the mountains on Thursday, he is going to need them.

  75. 1418:  
    Rob Hayles, Former GB cyclist and 5 live sports extra commentator

    On Mark Cavendish's chances of winning today's stage: "You look at the profile and think 'fingers crossed', it is a bunch-finish for Cav. Hopefully he should be able to gain another big chunk of points on Evans.

    "Obviously there is that bump at the end. In the general scheme of things it would be fine for Cav to get over it but what will affect how well he does it is what happens on the road on the day in the race."

  76. 1416:  
    Rob Hayles, Former GB cyclist and 5 live sports extra commentator

    On Mark Cavendish's hopes of keeping the red jersey: "Cav looked really happy on the podium when he was given the red jersey again on Tuesday. He was in good spirits, and he had a really good day. I think he lost about 12 minutes on the way up the final climb but came in a decent sized group and was about halfway up the field. That's irrelevant in the grand scheme of things but an even bigger group came in another 10 minutes later and how he finished bodes well for the last few days as he tries to keep the red jersey.

    "Cadel Evans got a chunk of points back on him because he finished near the front with Vincenzo Nibali and he is now six points behind. That would be heartbreaking, it would be a catastrophe for Cav really if somebody like Evans got the jersey. You cannot take it away from Evans because he has been riding very well but it is just the way the points have been structured, that it is the same amount of sprint points on the harder stages as it is on the flat days. That's a bit naughty really, but you cannot blame Evans for it."

  77. 1414: 

    Rob, the reason Cadel is up there is because of the way the points are allocated in the Giro - you get them up in the mountains as well as in the flat stages.

    If you look at the top five (at 1340 BST) you can see Vincenzo Nibali is not far away either - but neither he or Cadel Evans will be too bothered about the points category, they are just hoovering up points while they battle it out in the general classification.

    Here is BBC Radio 5 live sports Extra Rob Hayles to tell us more - and give his thoughts on Cav's chances today, and in the battle for the red jersey.

  78.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Rob, Worksop: Can any cycling aficionados tell me if Cadel Evans is a genuine points contender? Surely his General Classification fight gets in the way of that, or am I being naive?

  79.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Tom in Salisbury: No - last climb is too hard and too close to finish and the run in is too narrow and twisty to organise a chase if he is dropped.

    Stubbsie: Cav just seems to be in great form at the moment. His last win was fantastic after that long day. So yep Cav again today!

  80. 1409: 

    Who would have thought you could change your mind within 140 characters? Let us know what you think when the riders get to the top of Crosara, Mark.

    Anyway, that gap has gone up while the peloton have been having their lunch, and it is back up to over three minutes. I can't see it getting much bigger, though.

  81. 1408: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Mark Jones, again: It's a no then, I think the climb to Crosara will tell. That said I'm a big Cav fan, I'll never write him off - so not sure!

  82. 1405: 

    Chris, I think the reason Cav was trying to play his chances down a bit before this stage was to ensure his Omega Pharma-Quick Step (OPQS) team do not have to do all the work. They are near the front of the bunch but it is definitely not just them leading the chase.

    Not that anybody is doing to much work at the moment, mind, the riders have just rolled through the feed zone and they are currently filling their faces. There is about 110km to go, and the gap to the front four is about two-and-a-half minutes.

  83.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Chris in Oxford: With Matt Goss out how many pure sprinters are left? And does it mean OPQS bear all the responsibility for chasing the break today?

  84.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Lonely Joe Parker: Cav win? YES #bbccycling #hillsWhatHills.. nah he's looking in OK climbing shape at the mo, plus TdF2012 showed he's not afraid to climb.

  85. 1356: 

    I asked for a yes or a no... and I got a 'not sure!'

    I think Cav fancies it by the way - he is sat up near the front of the peloton with the rest of his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team-mates and helping to keep the gap to the four-man break to around three minutes. It is currently two minutes and 49 seconds, with 114km to go.

  86.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Mark Jones: Not sure Cav can win this stage but he must pick up points as Cadel Evans will gain on him in the stages before the final day.

  87. 1353:  
    Pink Jersey, Giro d'Italia leader
    Vincenzo Nibali

    We are not likely to see much change at the top of the general classification today, and this is how things are looking. Vincenzo Nibali is still in pole position, sitting pretty in pink, in the maglia rosa of the race leader.

    Michele Scarponi had a nibble at him yesterday, but Vincenzo was ready for him. The same could not be said for Mauro Santambrogio, who lost more than two minutes on the rest of the leaders to slide from fourth to sixth overall.

    1. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy / Astana) 67:55:36"

    2. Cadel Evans (Australia / BMC Racing) +1:26"

    3. Rigoberto Uran (Colombia / Team Sky) +2:46"

    4. Michele Scarponi (Italy / Lampre) +3:53"

    5. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Poland / Lampre) +4:13"

  88. 1350:  
    BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

    BBC Radio 5 live sports extra will have live commentary with Simon Brotherton and Rob Hayles from 15:30 BST to the end of the day's racing, which will also be available on this very page and the cycling index.

    It's YOU LOT that I want to hear from at the moment, though. Tell me whether you think Cav will win today, by saying YES or NO and why. You can even tell me if you think he will still be wearing the red jersey in Brescia on Sunday if you want...

    How? Tweet me using the hashtag #bbccycling or text me on 81111. Put your names on those texts, though, otherwise you will not be in the mixer.

  89. 1345: 

    Today's stage is already under way, and the riders have covered about 85km so far... no doubt enjoying the bright sunshine after the horrific weather they had to endure in the Alps.

    There has been some movement - a four-man break has been away for a while now, involving Miguel Angel Rubiano (Androni), Gert Dockx (Lotto), Luke Durbidge (Orica) and Maxim Belkov (Katusha)

    They are about three minutes clear with Cav's mates in the Omega Pharma-Quick Step trying to keep a rein on things at the front of the peloton. There are plenty of attacks happening off the front of the main bunch, though.

  90. 1340: 
    Red Jersey, Giro d'Italia points category
    Mark Cavendish

    Yes, I know. it's another picture of Cav. We haven't seen much of him for the last few days, though, so stop complaining.

    A stage win is only part of the prize your favourite man from the Isle of Man is chasing today. He is currently the proud wearer of the maglia rosso passione, the red jersey for the leader of the Giro's points category.

    Australian/honorary Welshman (sort of) Cadel Evans is hot on his heels, however, after reducing the deficit on Tuesday and, with more mountains to come, Cav needs some points today to give himself some breathing space.

    1. Mark Cavendish (GB/Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) 109

    2. Cadel Evans (Australia/BMC Racing) 103

    3. Carlos Betancur (Colombia/AG2R) 85

    4. Mauro Santambrogio (Italy/Vini Fantini) 84

    5. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy/Astana) 78

  91. 1336: 
    Mark Cavendish with his birthday cake before stage 16

    Mark Cavendish, speaking at the finish line on Tuesday (he had to leave his cake at the start - it was a bit big to carry): "It's always a hard stage on my birthday, every year. It's normal. We'll see on Wednesday, it's not going to be a definite sprint. We'll see what happens, but we'll look forward to the pressure."

  92. 1333: 
    Italy up

    Yep, after a few days in the snow-covered peaks we are back on the flat today... well, mostly. The first 180km of the riders' 214km route from Caravaggio to Vicenza is of the pancake variety, but then comes a nasty little bump in the shape of a short fourth-category climb up to Crosara.

    There is 16km from the summit to the finish line - long enough for the sprinters' teams to have a chance of catching anyone who got away from them on the way up - but it means a bunch finish is by no means guaranteed.

  93. 1330: 
    Welcome to stage 17
    Mark Cavendish

    Yes, he's STILL here. We may have lost Sir Bradley Wiggins to a chest infection last week but the good news is that Mark Cavendish has survived the Alps. He even enjoyed his 28th birthday on Tuesday. Well, sort of.

    But now he wants more glory. The Manx Missile goes for his fifth stage win of this year's Giro d'Italia today. It won't be easy, and it is certainly not straightforward... but that doesn't normally bother Cav too much, does it?

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