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Giro d'Italia 2013: Stage 21


Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage from the final stage of this year's Giro d'Italia.

Good morning from Riese Pio X. You join us for the final stage of this year's Giro d'Italia, a finale to Brescia of 197km.

It's far more relaxed environment too. Although there's still the matter of the points jersey and the stage win, riders know that the race is almost complete.

In a break with recent tradition the 96th Giro d'Italia concludes, for the first time, in Brescia, having beat off fierce competition from Vicenza. The decision to finish in the provinces isn't without controversy but RCS has a responsibility to the Giro itself. Milan has been the spiritual home of Italian cycling for a century but it has no divine rights. Besides, Brescia's enthusiasm is a breath of fresh air. We can look forward to a grand finale in a city which has always been one of Italian cycling's staunchest supporters.

Here's where we stand in the overall:

Yesterday Nibali confirmed what we've know for most of the race, that he's the strongest rider present and still standing, a worthy winner to this year's event.

Today's route is almost entirely flat and runs west all the way to Brescia, where the peloton will do a series of 4km loops.

The points jersey is still up for grabs today.

To illustrate Cavendish's consistency, he's the only sprinter inside the top seven in the points classification. Viviani, who is expected to be Cavendish's closet challenger is eighth with 72 points.

Goss, Bouhanni, Degenkolb, they've all gone home through either illness or fatigue and if Cavendish can win today he'll complete the points jersey grand slam having won the points jersey in the Tour and the Vuelta already in his career.

The peloton are 20km into today's stage and so far there's been no break. Omega Pharma QuickStep are controlling the pace in the early stages. It's likely that they'll let a small group go clear and then expect Cannondale to help with the chase. One thing is for certain, Cavendish and his teammates will have to set the pace for most of the day.

If there's one area in which Viviani can hurt Cavendish, or attempt to exploit a weakness it's in the Manxman's leadout. Geert Steegmans who has been instrumental in his leadout duties for Cavendish has already retired in the Giro.

160km remaining from 197km

Weather Update: At Riese Pio X, 19 degrees Celsius, some cloud. At Brescia, 21 degrees Celsius, clear skies.

Brescia has hosted thirteen Giro d’Italia stage finishes, often with prestigious winners. Two additional stages have finished at Santa Eufemia, and a semi-stage Pontoglio-La Maddalena (this latter being the mountain that overlooks the city from its 874 m) during the 1975 Giro, won by the late Wladimiro "Miro" Panizza. That day, huge crowds lined the narrow final climb to support the local rider Franco Bertoglio, wearing the Maglia Rosa and destined to win that Giro, that finished atop the Stelvio.

Quick Step continue to set the pace and control the peloton. They might be looking to control the peloton for the intermediate sprint. If Cavendish can win that he'll bring back 8 points on Nibali, who is 11 ahead.

Over 50 kilometres raced and the peloton are still racing as one. They've riding at a gentle pace at the moment, and who can really blame them after three weeks of brutal racing.

On the subject of the tough conditions, here's a video with BMC's Stephen Cummings in which the rider talks about the weather, the British set up that has seen such huge success, and Cadel Evans.

You can find all of our Giro d'ltalia video coverage right here. From tech features to interviews with Nibali, Cavendish, Wiggins and much, much more.

No change in the race situation with the bunch still riding together.

But now the attacks have started and Cummings is one of the first to jump up the road to try and establish a gap.  Here's a link to that Cummings video once again.

Decision time for QuickStep and Cavendish. Do they chase down every break and try and win the intermediate sprints or do they wait and bank it all on the stage win and the red jersey.

QuickStep do still have eight riders in the race, including Cavendish, it's only Steegmans who has left the race.

Cummings has been brought back by the Omega led peloton.

Less than 100 kilometres remaining of the stage, and of this year's Giro d'Italia. QuickStep continue to set the pace on the front but it's hardly breakneck.

The Colombia team have come to the front now and there's a far more general spread of teams on the front of the peloton.

Stefano Garzelli, riding his final stage in a Giro d'Italia has pulled to the side of the peloton and gives an on air interview to a RAI race moto. Garzelli won seven stages in the race and the overall title back in 2000.

91km remaining from 197km

81km remaining from 197km

Omega Pharma are spread across the front of the peloton.

No special edition bike for Nibali, just pink bar tape.

the bunch has now strung out with 64 km remaining in the stage.

Astana have taken over at the front of the peloton.

Nibali and his entire team lead the peloton at the moment. The pace is still fairly relaxed but the peloton are at least starting to line out.

Cavendish picked up the first intermediate sprint so he's now just 3 points behind Nibali.

Cavendish is still near the front of the peloton. Nibali of course isn't contesting for the red jersey but there's still plenty of work for Cavendish to do.

56km remaining from 197km

Just under 50 kilometres to go and the peloton will enter Brescia together.

There are a few clouds overhead but at the moment it's still dry outside.

The riders have been out there for 4'30'00 and the pace has increased slightly. Pirazzi is at the very back as up ahead Nibali's team control affairs.

Ligthart has a problem with his bike and his mechanic is quick on his feet and provides the rider with assistance.

Filippo Pozzato is back with the Lampre team car. Pozzato has done very little in the race of note, but perhaps he can try something before the sprint today?

Astana lead the peloton towards the finishing circuit, which they'll complete 7 times.

Huge crowds are out to cheer on the peloton and especially Nibali. Astana set the pace  on the opening lap.

Garzelli is allowed to ride off the front and give a few waves to the crowd.

Garzelli even manages to grant a few fans some high-fives as he sits up and waits for the bunch to catch up with him.

Omega Pharma move up on the inside, sentiment is over and done with now, and the Belgian team set the pace.

There's an attack from an Androni rider.

Cavendish goes over to the Androni rider. Does he think that's the intermediate sprint?

Ermeti carries on with the move after Cavendish sits up.

The tight corners could play into the hands of a small group or a lone rider and Ermeti has really put the hammer down.

Ermeti is caught and QuickStep lead the peloton

Cavendish is furious because it's not clear where the intermediate is meant to be. He crossed the line first on that occasion so the jersey is now his but it's far from clear.

There's still no declaration from the organisers so we don't know if that last lap was the intermediate sprint. At this rate Cavendish will just have to lead over the line on ever lap. It's slightly farcical based on the fact that this was the only jersey that could have changed hands today.

He does it again, he crosses the line in first place. That's the third time he's had to sprint, it's turning into points training for the Rio Olympics.

Confirmation that Cavendish now leads the points competition. Omega are still on the front with 15km to go.  Can Cavendish recover in time?

Modolo,Hunter, Nizzolo,  Ferrari , they're all here too.

Viviani has all his Cannondale teammates around him as he moves up towards the head of the bunch but it's still Omega Pharma with all 8 riders on the front of the peloton.

Pozzato is going to lead out Ferrari.

11km remaining from 197km

Into the final 10km of this stage, and this year's Giro d'italia.

Orica and RadioShack are coming through to the front now.

Golas simply burns the Orica challenge off his wheel and once again Omega are in control.

Just 6km to go now.

RadioShack seem to have won the battle to  be on Cavendish's wheel.

The bell rings and the bunch are onto the last lap.

Cavendish has a bit of work to do in order to keep himself near the front.

3km to go

Cavendish is back up to third wheel.

1km to go

Modolo is now on Cavendish's wheel.

Cannondale take over with 900 to go

Viviani, Cavendish and Modolo open up.

It's going to be close but Viviani is fading.

Cavendish takes it.

1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 5:30:09
2 Sacha Modolo (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox
3 Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
4 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack Leopard
5 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team Argos-Shimano
6 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
7 Kenny Dehaes (Bel) Lotto Belisol
8 Manuel Belletti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team
10 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha

And here's our top ten on GC:

Thanks for joining us today. You can find our race report, photos and results, right here.

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