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Giro d'Italia 2013: Stage 12

It is a short stage today and one for the sprinters again, at long last. Will Cavendish take his 100th pro win today?

Today's stage is short and sweet. It rolls a bit in the first two-thirds, and offers up two category four climbs, but the final 33 kilometers are slightly-descending-to-flat – a custom-made situation for a mass sprint.

The stage ends in Treviso, which is the home of the Pinarello bike company. Wouldn't they love to see a win today by Sky or Movistar?

Don't forget to check out our preview for today's stage.

Unfortunately the weather forecast is not co-operating. Heavy rain is forecast, and only 13°C. There is in fact a severe weather alert, with the chance of thunderstorms.

The race has by now started, if all has gone accoriding to schedule.

Today's first climb is the Muro de Ca' del Poggio, coming at km 57.3. In 1.15km of climbing, the riders will hit gradients of 18% and 16%.  The second climb, the Montello S.M.D. Vittoria at km 93, is longer (over three km) and gentler, with only one early section of 14%.

The final run in is a flat one, but technical.  We count eight turns and a roundabout in the last 7.5 kilometers, with four of them coming between 3 and 1.5 kms, fortunately none in the final km. Combine that with the forecasted heavy winds and rain/thunderstorms, and it could be nasty....

Didn't we say something about "if everything goes according to schedule"? Well, it didn't. The race started 15 minues late due to a bus broken down in the middle of the road. No idea what bus or what road, though.

Only 191 riders were at the start. Matti Breschel of Saxo-Tinkoff had to abandon the race with knee problems.

As always, let's take a look at some of the overall rankings. In GC, Vincenzo Nibali is still in control.

1     Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team     43:26:27      
2     Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team     0:00:41      
3     Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling     0:02:04      
4     Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling     0:02:05      
5     Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team     0:02:12      
6     Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida     0:02:13      
7     Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia     0:02:55      
8     Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida     0:03:35      
9     Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team     0:04:05      
10     Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2R La Mondiale     0:04:17     

The weather is in fact so bad that the neutralized section has been extended. A race jury car is still at the front of the field, keeping things slow. And we hear that the jury is considering altering at least one portion of the route.  We don't know yet which section, though.

The race has finally been "really" started, and four riders took off at 9 km.: Felline, Belkov, de Backer and Lammertink

That would be: Fabio Felline (Androni Giocattoli), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Bert De Backer (Argos-Shimano) and Maurits Lammertink (Vacansoleil).

They are 14 seconds ahead of Marco Mercato of Vacansoleil, who is chasing. We don't yet have a gap to the peloton.

120km remaining from 134km

The peloton is 1:34 behind the leaders.

The jury has said it will take the time for GC at the 3km-to-go marker, in an effort to reduce the chance of crashes in teh finale.

This cold, wet weather really can't be good for all of those riders with colds and chest infections.

Cadel Evans leads the points ranking. Will Mark Cavendish hope to get “his” jersey back today?

1     Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team     73     pts
2     Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling     60      
3     Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step     58      
4     Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling     53      
5     Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia     52      
6     Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox     45      
7     Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team     45      
8     Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Ag2R La Mondiale     43      
9     Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha     41      
10     Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol     39      
 

Mercato has finally caught the lead group. The gap to the field has gone down to 1:31

We have had the first intermediate sprint, and the points went to, in this order: Belkov, de Backer, Lammertink, Felline and Marcato.

Stefano Pirazzi has a huge lead in the mountains classification, and doesn't have to worry abut losing that jersey today. 

1     Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox     46     pts
2     Jackson Rodriguez (Ven) Androni Giocattoli     26      
3     Robinson Eduardo Chalapud Gomez (Col) Colombia     23      
4     Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team     16      
5     Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling     15      
6     Emanuele Sella (Ita) Androni Giocattoli     13      
7     Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha     13      
8     Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol     12      
9     Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia     12      
10     Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp     9      
 

Perhaps the peloton has decided to let this group go. The gap is now over two minutes.

Best young rider continues to be Rafal Majka.

1     Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff     43:30:48      
2     Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Ag2R La Mondiale     0:01:05      
3     Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team     0:04:34      
4     Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) Colombia     0:08:31      
5     Diego Rosa (Ita) Androni Giocattoli     0:24:09      
6     Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia     0:35:18      
7     Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox     0:42:30      
8     Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge     0:43:11      
9     Fabio Felline (Ita) Androni Giocattoli     0:50:01      
10     Francesco Manuel Bongiorno (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox     0:52:53      
 

The riders are all wearing not only rain jackets, but it looks like as many layers as they possibly can.

103km remaining from 134km

And now the gap is hitting the three minute mark.

The rain has had its effect: nearly the entire head group wiped out. Hope they are all ok.

It looked like one of the Vacansoleil riders was the only one to stay upright.

They didn't run into each other, they all just slipped out separately on a very wet curve.

It was in fact de Backer, the Argos rider, who didn't crash.

Surprisingly, the gap has now increased. The theory is that the peloton has heard of the crash and slowed down a lot to avoid the same problem.

The field takes that same curve practically in slow-motion. Wiggins is near the back of the field, and going very slowly and carefully.

We only see four riders in the lead group. Marcato seems to be missing.

Bradley Wiggins is amongst those who has not performed as expected at the Giro. Now the Sky rider admits that he, like so many others, has come down with a cold and chest infection.

Mark Cavendish looks less than thrilled with this weather, and who can blame him?

Marcato has now made it back to the lead group.

So many of the teams are wearing black rain gear, it is very difficult to pick anyone out. Wiggins still at the very back of the pack.

You think this weather is bad? How about some snowfall in the mountains?

87km remaining from 134km

Nothing changes: the lead group, the three minute gap, Wiggo at the back, the unceasing rain....


Ryder Hesjedal couldn't deliver for Garmin-Sharp, but Ramunas Navardauskas could. It was “the ideal course for me,” said the stage 11 winner.

The first climb of the day is coming up in a few kilometers. It is short, but very steep. Let's hope that all goes well.

The Argos car has moved up to the lead group for a short chat.

It looks like three of the riders in the break group changed bikes after that crash. The two Vacansoleil riders and Belkov don't have their numbers on their bikes.

The leaders turn off the main road and start up a very steep climb.

77km remaining from 134km

They make their way up as a group, slowly but surely.

And now the field tackles the climb.

ONe of the Vacansoleil riders is first over the top, it looks to be Marcato.

The field is going up this hill at quite a good pace.

A mechnaical problem for a Saxo rider, perhaps he dropped his chain?

The first riders of the chasing peloton cross the mountaintop exactly 2 minutes after the leaders.

Oops, that was wrong. They weren't at the top. Now they are, and the gap is 3 minutes.

Marcato took the points ahead of Belkov and Felline.

Maglia rosa Nibali is “tranquilo”. And indeed he is, he never seems ruffled and looks to be in control of the race.

Saxo-Tinkoff's Daniele Bennati has some sort of equipment product. He has now finally dropped back to the team car for a new bike, and the process seems to be taking forever.

Not real sure what the problem was back at the team car. They ended up pulling three or four bikes down off the roof of the car.

It is still raining, by the way. Heavily.

It has not been an easy race for Hesjedal. The defending champion, by yesterday's stage he had become a voluntary water carrier.

Just a reminder that our five leaders are
Fabio Felline (Androni Giocattoli), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Bert De Backer (Argos-Shimano) and Maurits Lammertink (Vacansoleil). Their gap has now dropped to 2:35.

We have an abandon: Dalivier Ospina Navarro, of Team Colombia.

Reader David Welton has some good news for us, weather-wise: "Looks like it may stop raining quite so heavily (here in Padova, it has already lessened) although I don't think there's any chance it'll dry out completely"

Thanks!

Cavendish has 99 pro wins to his name. Wouldn't he just love to take number 100 today? And by the way, can you name what he considers his top three best wins?

Cavendish has taken off his rain jacket -- not that it has topped raining, mind you. A number of other riders have done the same, so now perhaps we can recognize them again.

Belkov and Lammertink sprint for the intermediate sprint points (and bonus seconds), with the Dutch rider having the better legs.

53km remaining from 134km

The peloton hits the sprint marker, and the gap is 2:23.

Cannondale and OPQS are sharing the chase work in the peloton.

Cavendish is not the only one who hopes to win here today. Any number of others would love to deny him his 100th, including Nacer Bouchanni of FdJ.

Garmin-Sharp's Thomas Dekker was way back, perhaps at the team car? He has finally worked his way back up to the peloton.

43km remaining from 134km

The lead group now heads up the day's final climb. 2:25 behind them, BMC is at the hed of the peloton.

This climb, also category 4, is longer but not as steep as the first one was

 

The peloton is now climbing as well.

This road is very narrow, which makes it tricky for a large group.

OPQS now leading the field. Not often we see Cavendish at the head of things on a climb!

Belkov leads the way to the top and easily takes the points.

A Movistar rider, Lastras, has to pull over and summon the team car. A puncture, no doubt.

2:39 minutes gap as the field crosses the mountain ranking.

Belkov did indeed take the points ahead of Felline and Marcato.

Mattia Gavazzi of Androni-Giacattoli is another one who would like to spoil Cavendish' day by winning the sprint in Treviso.

With about 35 km to go, de Backer takes a slight lead over his escape-mates.

Robert Gesink of Blanco is happy not to have crashed in the first week of the Giro, and although he has lost time on several stages, is still optimistic.

27km remaining from 134km

27 km to go, and a gap of 2:28. And it is still raining.

Several riders had fallen back, including Wiggins and Michele Scarponi, but they are back in the peloton now.

Bradley Wiggins is off the back  one again and in trouble. He's surrounded by his Sky teammates but this isn't a good sign.

BMC are drilling it on the front and it looks like Wiggins could lose yet more time in GC.

Wiggins is over a minute down on the maglia rosa group.

Uran doesn't appear to be in the Wiggins group so Sky's leadership at least could be a little clearer come the end of the stage.

Now the sprinters' teams are moving up with Cannondale and QuickStep on the front. This is a huge danger for Wiggins's Giro chances.

The five leaders have 1'20 on the peloton with 17km to go.

Now it looks like Wiggins has lost contact with his own teammates.

This could be the end of Wiggins' Giro.

Wiggins has a rider from Cannondale and a rider from Euskaltel with him but they're not helping with the British rider's lone chase.

Wiggins is now two minutes down. It's all over. Wiggins makes it back to that chase group though.

The five leaders have just 55 seconds on the maglia rosa group with 12.2km to go.

Race radio crackles through that Uran is not with the Nibali group either.

Sky has moved to the front of the third group on the road but they're almost three minutes down at the moment. And with 10km to go the five leaders have 35 seconds.

Just 7km and race radio now say that Uran is with the Nibali group. The five leaders have 24 seconds. This is going to be a very close call.

The circuit has a number of tight corners and on the slick roads its' advantage break. But QuickStep adn Cannondale are here to set up Viviani and Cavendish.

I think only Heano is with Uran, the rest of the team are back with Wiggins.

19 seconds for the first five riders with 5km to go

It looks like Vivani is fighting to get onto Cavendish's rear wheel.

Omega turn the screw on the front of the peloton with Cavendish tucked in around 5th or 6th wheel.

3km to go and the gap to the leaders is 11 seconds. Wiggins is now over 3 minutes down.

10 seconds is the gap. It's going to be so close.

bouhanni is in the mix too here.

 

Just over 1km to go and the leaders have less than 50 meters.

They could do this still

500 to go.

The catch is made!

Steegmans leads Cavendish

Cavendish wins and that's number 100 I believe.

Steegmans came up with the goods there in the leadout and gave Cavendish a perfect ride to the last 150-200 meters.

Wiggins is now coming to the line. 3'35 down.

In the sprint Steegmans picked his way to the front of the group with Viviani following Cavendish. The British sprinter simply blew everyone away though.

1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 3:01:47
2 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ
3 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team Argos-Shimano
4 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack Leopard
5 Brett Lancaster (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
6 Manuel Belletti (Ita) Ag2R La Mondiale
7 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
8 Sacha Modolo (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox
9 Ioannis Tamouridis (Gre) Euskaltel-Euskadi
10 Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team

Thanks for joining us today. You can read our race report right here.

Remember, our Tour of California starts in a few hours.

Before we leave you, here's the top ten in GC. Wiggins has dropped out of it:

 

General classification after stage 12
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 46:28:14
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:41
3 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 2:04
4 Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 2:12
5 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 2:13
6 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 2:55
7 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 3:35
8 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 4:05
9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 4:17
10 Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 4:21

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