The Giro is alternating predictable and surprising endings. After a winner nobody expected on yesterday’s stage, we’re back to unsurprising conclusions, with Mark Cavendish taking the 16th stage of his career at the Giro.
Samuele Rivi (Eolo Kometa) and Mattia Bais (Drone Hopper – Androni Giocattoli) composed the daily breakaway and were caught with 28km to go. Good start of the Giro for Androni: they are 2/2 in putting riders in the breakaway. Very important for an invited team to make sure they are as visible as possible.
13km from the checkered flag there was a 4th category climb contested by Pascal Eenkhoorn and Rick Zabel. The former won the two-man sprint and both riders are currently tied in the lead of the mountains’ competition, with 5 points each. In yesterday’s time trial Zabel purposefully rode the first 8km very slowly to save energy to win the mountain points at the end (yesterday’s TT finished on the top of a 4th category climb). This peculiar plan was successful, as the German was 4 seconds quicker than stage winner Simon Yates. Eenkhoorn had similar aspirations but could only manage second place in that particular fight, less than a second behind Zabel. The latter is the best placed in the general classification (GC) (142nd vs 151st) and will wear the blue jersey on Tuesday.
After the fight for the mountains’ points, Eenkhoorn stayed in front for a few kilometers, but did not pose any problems for the peloton to bring him back.
Quick Step entered the final kilometer in front but didn’t manage to keep a perfect train until the end. Still, they were by far the most effective working for their sprinter today, even though Cavendish’s victory can’t really be attributed to anyone but himself. Even though Quick Step worked well to position the British sprinter near the front, they didn’t really leave him close to the line. He had to do far more than simply finish the job this time. Cav left Morkov’s wheel with over 250 meters to the line. And he held the lead over Gaviria and Démare for what seemed like an eternity on TV.
Off the top of my head, I don’t remember any sprint more demoralizing than this one for Cavendish’s adversaries. Sure, when he was the undisputed best sprinter in the world there was not really much anyone else could do. No use in even getting demoralized. But now? If you’re Gaviria or Démare how do you get motivated to go toe to toe with a 36 (soon 37) year old would just proved himself to still be that much better than you on a 250 meter long sprint?!? They are incredible riders in their own right so I’m sure their desire to win is innate. But ooof! Today was a long one for them, both literally and figuratively.
The riders are off tomorrow but we’re not! Visit us for the preview of stage 4 – the ascent of Mount Etna!