After 12 hard days of racing, stage 13 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia was unlikely to see any huge fireworks. A flat stage from Savona to Cervere, it played out in the standard grand tour format: A breakaway emerged, spent most of the day in front, the peloton chased them down, the teams fought to set up their sprinters for the victory, and in the closing 100m Mark Cavendish put the hammer down and outdid his rivals. Katusha's Alexander Kristoff took second, with Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) in third.
It was a classic sprint, and it demonstrated again that no team has been able to solve the combination of Cav's efficient lead out train and ample talent. Orica Greenedge was there for Matthew Goss, and they appeared to box in Team Sky. But Garmin came through pulling their man Robbie Hunter and things broke apart, allowing Cavendish to come around the others in the final meters. Most stages see the opposite, where someone latches on to Cav's wheel and then tries to come around him. But even when that doesn't happen, when he doesn't have the advantage, he still motors his way to the win. With crashes mixing up the closing sprints in two earlier stages, Cavendish has been frustrated at this year's Giro. He's won only two stages so far, well short of his goal of five. He's now got three, but with the race soon entering the high mountains his opportunity to shine may be drawing to a close.
The provisional GC standings after stage 13:
1) Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 51:19:08
2) Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:17
3) Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:00:26
4) Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:32
5) Ivan Santaromita (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:00:49
6) Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team 0:00:52
7) Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team
8) Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:57
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