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Hello there and welcome to the Cyclingnews live race centre for stage 13 of the 2018 Giro d'Italia. You're all looking forward to this weekend's stages, I assume, but first we have this almost pan-flat stage from Ferrara to Nervesa della Battaglia.
That's not to say it won't be an exciting one. Yesterday's chaotic final hour of racing in the rain and wind underlined once again that there's no such thing as a straight forward day at the Giro. Like yesterday, today's parcours features a late category-4 climb. It's surely not severe enough to derail the sprint trains, but stranger things have happened...
Riders and teams have all arrived in Ferrara and are going through the usual pre-race drills. The stage is due to get underway at 13.00 local time.
Before we get going, here's a re-cap of yesterday's action. Sam Bennett exuded supreme confidence as he launched a remarkable long-range sprint (or was it more of a solo attack?) on the Imola motro racing track. Report, results, photos all here...
It shouldn't be a GC day (I say that cautiously), but here's how things stand overall.
1 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 51:57:55
2 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:47
3 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:01:04
4 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:18
5 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar Team 0:01:56
6 George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:02:09
7 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:02:36
8 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:02:54
9 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:02:55
10 Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:03:10
11 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:03:17
12 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:03:20
13 Ben O'Connor (Aus) Dimension Data 0:03:25
14 Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team 0:03:29
15 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:03:40
@GroupamaFDJ Fri, 18th May 2018 10:54:55
The race is underway and we await the first attacks.
One non-starter today, and that's Astana's Tanel Kangert, who struggled through yesterday's stage but has now decided to pull the plug. Here's a statement from the team.
Tanel Kangert will go home today and in the next days will do all checkings with the specialist. During the last 5 days Tanel has suffered from gastro-intestinal problems. He did the yesterday's stage, but the health and safety of the rider is on first place.
After a few kilometres of attacking, it seems we now have our breakaway. In there are five riders, with the Italian Pro Conti teams predictable well represented.
The breakaway riders
Markel Irizar (Trek-Segafredo)
Marco Marcato (UAE Team Emirates)
Andrea Vendrame (Androni Gioccatoli-Sidermec)
Alessandro Toneeli (Bardiani CSF)
Eugert Zhupa (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia)
The five breakaway riders quickly open a lead of 3:30.
153km remaining from 180km
Despite the flat nature of the parcours, the peloton aren't allowing the break much ground at all. And that's been a theme of this Giro. They could afford to give these guys 10 minutes but instead the bunch is bundling along in single file, and they've take a minute off the gap, which is now down to 2:40.
It's Quick-Step and Bora-Hansgrohe doing the work - the teams of Elia Viviani and Sam Bennett, respectively.
The two sprinters have two stage wins apiece from this Giro so far, and are the two heavy favourites today.
A big story currently developing is that the BMC Racing team could be saved by Deloitte, who are reportedly coming on board as title sponsor. Here's the full story.
It's not exactly happy families in the break. Marcato and Irizar are currently remonstrating with one another over something or other.
Irizar's clearly not happy about something - he's just dropped back to the race official's car for another argument.
With a pretty sleepy day in prospect on the road here, why not get excited about our next film? You might remember our debut production THE HOLY WEEK, and now we return for our second effort, CRESCENDO. It will focus on the final week of this Giro d'Italia, with behind-the-scenes access to capture the raw emotion and daily drama of Grand Tour racing.
It's Bora's Cesare Benedetti who's doing all the work in these early kilometres. The unhappy breakaway rolls on three minutes up the road.
We're heading north here and will be revisiting some of the roads of the 1985 World Championships. Dutchman Joop Zoetemelk won that day ahead of Greg LeMond and Moreno Argentin.
Anyone remember that? I was born in 1991 so can't help you... Get in touch if you can recall the details and tell me if it was a decent race (we need something to talk about on a day like this). You can do that via Twitter @paddyfletch.
After a fairly quick start the pace has settled down and we could be stuck in this pattern for some time yet. Bora and Quick-Step continue to lead the peloton and the fact that it's still lined out indicates it's not exactly slow, but it's certainly relaxed as they keep the gap at three minutes.
118km remaining from 180km
With just over 60km covered, we're heading for the first of our intermediate sprints, at Piove di Sacco.
Here's how things stand in the intermediate sprints classification. With a maximum of 10 points on offer at each of the two sprints, Vendrame could make inroads but will be unable to topple the top two. Still, they're his teammates, and an all-Androni top three would be a nice reflection of their commitment to the breaks at this Giro.
1 Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 61 pts
2 Davide Ballerini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 59
3 Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 34
4 Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Cycling Academy 24
5 Andrea Vendrame (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 20
111km remaining from 180km
Here we go then, and Vendrame isn't interested. It's Marcato who goes for it and is tracked by Zhupa. To be honest neither of them really look interested, either, but it's Marcato who takes the 10 points.
Feed zone. Not for the riders. I'm going to hand over to my colleague Sadhbh O'Shea while I get myself some lunch.
Hello, Sadhbh here. Bora-Hansgrohe head the bunch with one rider and Quick-Step Floors behind. They've got the gap pegged at 2:50 at the moment.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Fri, 18th May 2018 12:37:52
Today, on paper, should be a sprint finish. We've had four bunch finishes so far, though yesterday was not you're average group gallop, with Viviani and Bennett taking two apiece. Viviani has not won a stage since the race returned to Italy and he will want to get something on the board today. As he pointed out ahead of the stage, this is his first Grand Tour since 2016. Perhaps he is feeling the stresses of a Grand Tour more keenly than Bennett and others.
Of course, the ciclamino points jersey could be up for grabs today. Viviani has led the competition since his win on stage 2 and has been mopping up intermediate points along the way. However, Bennett made some serious inroads into Viviani's lead yesterday with the Italian missing the sprint altogether. Just 22 points separate the pair at the top of the standings.
1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors 184 pts
2 Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe 162
3 Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 89
4 Davide Ballerini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 87
5 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 86
6 Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 76
7 Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 68
8 Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 64
9 Enrico Battaglin (Ita) LottoNL-Jumbo 59
10 Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Cycling Academy 52
91km remaining from 180km
The peloton has eased up a little bit, allowing the gap to go out to almost 3:30. With a very long way to go until the end, that advantage is more than manageable for the bunch. The weather is expected to remain dry for the remainder of the stage, so we are unlikely to see scenes like we did yesterday.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the Tour of California is gong on. Tejay van Garderen heads into today's test to South Lake Tahoe as the race leader. He's expecting a big battle ahead if he hopes to keep a hold of his yellow jersey. Read his full comments here.
Viviani has been back to the car and he now has Sabatini shepherding him back to the bunch. Natneal Berhane is making the most of the small train to get himself back into the bunch. The pace isn't high, so there is no stress for them.
As well as California, there is racing going on in Norway with the Tour of Norway. LottoNL-Jumbo rider Lars Boom will be heading home early from that race, however, after he punched another rider. Check out the full story, here.
That's my brief spell over. I'm going to hand you back to Patrick Fletcher for the rest of today's stage.
Hello again. Indonesian fried rice from Bristol's street food market, if you're asking, and disappointing.
Have I missed much? Didn't think so. Let's see what the rest of the stage has in store.
Paolo Simion must hail from Martellago. The Bardiani CSF rider is allowed off the front of the peloton to wave to the crowds that have come out in force.
67km remaining from 180km
The five breakaway riders find a little wiggle room as their lead grows again to 3:15, but realistically the peloton will be able to bring them back with ease whenever they feel like it.
@giroditalia Fri, 18th May 2018 13:33:44
Eros Capecchi comes to the front of the peloton tok break the Benedetti/Cavagna duopoly we've seen for pretty much the whole day so far. 3:05 the gap with 60km to go as we come into Treviso.
'There are no easy days at the Giro', says Simon Yates. But this is just about the most relaxed situation he could have asked for. Things will soon intensify, of course, and he'll have to be alert on the late climb as well as doing his best to stay away from any potential crashes, but so far this is the quiet day all the GC riders were hoping for ahead of the mighty Monte Zoncolan tomorrow.
We hit Villorba and here comes the second of our intermediate sprints.
52km remaining from 180km
Zhupa reaches out once again but this time Marcato isn't interested. The Wilier rider therefore snaffles maximum points ahead of Vendrame, who was the only other rider to show an interest.
Back in the peloton Elia Viviani clips off the front of the peloton to claim the remaining points and nudge that little bit further clear of Bennett in the Maglia Ciclamino standings.
Confidence... that priceless commodity. After years of doubting himself and beating himself up, it seems Sam Bennett has it now. He finally broke his Grand Tour duck here on stage 7 - had he not, he might not have shown the boldness he did in winning yesterday's stage in spectacular fashion.
"It's hard to say, but maybe I wouldn't have been so firm in my decision-making if I hadn't won a stage already," Bennett said yesterday. "I was more sure of my decisions. When I decided on something, I just did it, if that makes sense."
Here's fellow Irishman Barry Ryan with the full story: Sam Bennett goes the distance to double up at Giro d'Italia
I suppose this is the point where I should start asking if Bennett's going to make it three, or if Viviani's going to make it three... Or is it unfair to bill this as a two-horse race? Who else takes your fancy?
Send in your thoughts and predictions via Twitter @paddyfletch
35km remaining from 180km
The five breakaway riders pass under the 35km-to-go banner and they do so with a lead of 1:30. The road will start to pitch uphill in around 5km time ahead of the climb itself.
The pace has picked up in the peloton as they head into Nervesa della Battaglia, where clouds are and looming and darkening. They'll cross the finish line before taking on this 30km finishing circuit with the Montello climb.
30km remaining from 180km
The gap is down to 55 seconds as the peloton take the bell.
@Cycling_Crazy Fri, 18th May 2018 14:16:47
This is the lay of the land from the finish line to the top of the climb.
As the road rises, the attacks begin in the peloton. Tony Martin has punched clear with four others.
Krists Neilands of Milan-San Remo fame is one of the riders who bridged across, and now he makes a dig of his own. It's down to four as a Bora representative slips back.
With Martin and Neilands are Quick-Step's Eros Capecchi, who probably won't contribute, and a rider from Androni, obviously.
Martin folds his arms over his bars and takes it up. It's Davide Ballerini for Androni and eventually he comes through for a turn. Their advantage is only a slim one as EF-Drapac and Bora lead the chase.
23km remaining from 180km
The move comes to nothing... Martin, Neilands, Ballerini, and Capecchi are re-absorbed into the peloton.
A few drops of rain now as the five breakaway riders come into the final couple of kilometres of the climb.
Mitch Docker is off the road after a crash. He's ok, but he won't be able to help Sacha Modolo here.
Marcato drives it on out of the saddle and leads the break towards the KOM point.
Meanwhile Thibaut Pinot's FDJ teammates take control in the peloton.
20km remaining from 180km
Vendrame springs out of the saddle and leads over the top of the climb, collecting maximum KOM points in the process. The gap back to the bunch, however, is down to just 22 seconds.
We now head downhill for a gentle but fast run back into town.
The breakaway will be able to stem the tide and hang onto their advantage on this downhill section, but the road does level out with around 10km to go, and that's surely when the game will be up.
The sprinters' teams aren't taking it up just yet. It's still FDJ on the front, and the gap goes out to 25 seconds once more.
Bahrain-Merida take it up now. They have GC rider Domenico Pozzovivo to keep safe but will also looking to tee up Niccolo Bonifazio, who finished third yesterday.
Still more than 20 seconds for the five leaders...
12km remaining from 180km
Still it's Bahrain setting the pace with just over 10km to go. When will Quick-Step and Bora come to the fore?
10km remaining from 180km
The five breakaway riders come off the descent and onto the flatter roads with 10km to go. They do so with 20 seconds in hand.
Katusha take it up now en masse.
Katusha's Baptiste Planckaert finished fourth yesterday, and is clearly confident in doing something today.
8km remaining from 180km
Bora slip a rider into the Katusha train.
The gap is down to 10 seconds. It doesn't look like we'll be treated to an upset.
Tony Martin, on the attack earlier, is now drilling it on the front for Katusha.
Irizar looks over his shoulder and gestures as if to squeeze every last drop out of his companions. But over the other shoulder he can see the rapidly advancing peloton...
6km remaining from 180km
The catch is made with 6.2 to go. Handshakes all round for the breakaway men.
They've been out front all day but the race quickly forgets about them and the peloton continues its single-file march to the finish.
5km remaining from 180km
5km to go and still it's Katusha dominating this one. Quick-Step now move a couple of riders up.
Here's what we're dealing with
Katusha, Quick-Step, LottoNL. That's the order of the teams at the moment. No sign of Bora.
Bennett is likely to seek out the wheel of Viviani as he did on stage 7.
And that's exactly where Bennett is already.
The bunch spreads across the road now as Bahrain-Merida and LottoNL impose themselves.
Bahrain take it up properly now as we go through the 3km to go banner. That's the safety net for the GC men.
2km remaining from 180km
2.5km to go and Mitchelton-Scott are taking no risks, keeping Yates up towards the front.
It's a relatively sedate pace for the finale of a sprint stage...
FDJ and Mitchelton-Scott on the front, weirdly. But now LottoNL crack and take it up with five riders for Van Poppel.
Stybar moves onto Viviani's wheel. Will he try and keep Bennett off it?
1km remaining from 180km
Attack from a Wilier rider with 1km to go!
Could this be a huge upset?!
Bahrain on the front now but there's a big gap...
400m to go and LottoNL start to lead out
He's going to get caught.
Modolo opens it up
But here comes Viviani.... and he takes it!
Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) wins stage 13 of the Giro d'Italia
Bennett was second there, Van Poppel third.
A fine sprint from Viviani to take his third win of this Giro. A teammate dropped him off on the wheel of Modolo, who went very early to close down the Wilier rider - perhaps inspired by Bennett yesterday? Viviani showed his track skills to squeeze through a gap and he surged past Modolo convincingly, punching the air as he crossed the line.
Past the line Viviani had barely slowed when he jumped off his bike, which fell to the ground, and in to the arms of his soigneur. The soigneur was celebrating while hugging him but Viviani was standing there deadpan. He looked pumped for that.
1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors 3:56:25
2 Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe
3 Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
4 Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
5 Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
6 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
7 Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
8 Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
10 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
No change on GC
1 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott
2 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:47
3 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 1:04
4 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 1:18
5 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar Team 1:56
6 George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL-Jumbo 2:09
7 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 2:36
8 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team 2:54
9 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 2:55
10 Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 3:10
@CafeRoubaix Fri, 18th May 2018 15:01:58
It was indeed Viviani and Bennett in the front two positions. Bennett looked out of it but produced an impressive sprint to make up ground and take second. Modolo's frustration was clear for all to see, the Italian repeatedly bashing his bars in frustration as he crossed the line.
Here's a first finish line shot
Let's hear from Viviani
"It's amazing. After a few difficult days, that’s what I needed and what the team needed, too, because they worked hard for two days. They deserve it. Yesterday everyone was worried about it - it was a bad day. We had two or three days really bad, but we are really determined to keep this jersey until Rome, and we really wanted to win after the beautiful start.
"Like I said this morning, sport, like life, is never easy. You win, you lose, you have a good moment, you have a bad moment, you live a dream, the dream is done, and then you need to start another dream. Now it’s one week to go and we have this jersey. I don’t know how it will go, but the important thing is to get back to winning."
'No discussion who's the fastest,' writes Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere as he posts a video of the sprint on Instagram. Well, Sam Bennett seemingly sees it differently. Here's what he said when Eurosport grabbed him for a second past the finish there.
"I couldn't get on the right wheel. I had to come from very far back. I think I was the quickest in the finale but I just couldn't get out. There'll be another day."
@giroditalia Fri, 18th May 2018 15:18:13
Here we see Viviani's victory salute. Before punching the air he made a this 'calm down' gesture. It seems he felt he'd been unfairly written off after a bad day yesterday and after Bennett had drawn level on two stage wins. My colleagues Barry Ryan and Stephen Farrand are currently with Viviani in his post-race press conference, so we'll have a full story on the Italian shortly.
Here's our report page, where you can find results and photos.
Simon Yates said yesterday that there are no easy days at the Giro, but maybe he's revising that now.
"I did the sprint," he jokes in his daily pink jersey snap interview. "I was just trying to stay safe. The guys did a really good job keeping me in the front, and then once the sprinters came to the front I was safely in the peloton so it was ok.
"It was the easiest day we’ve had so far, but no race is easy. I’m looking forward to tomorrow now. I was in the front all day. I didn’t actually see or speak to too many people. I was just relaxing with the guys up there."
Thoughts quickly turn away from that sprint and towards the imposing figure of Monte Zoncolan. There'll be a few nerves overnight...
"If I think about Zoncolan, the idea of legend comes in my mind. It’s a legendary climb and who wins there deserves a place as legend of the Giro," says Fabio Aru.
"This idea gives me extra motivation for trying to realize a good performance. It will be an important test for all the GC contenders, on that steep climb you can not hide yourself."
Want all our flash post-stage quotes in one handy place? Here you go...
That's it for our live coverage today. We'll be back again right here all day tomorrow, and with Zoncolan on the menu, I assume you'll be joining us again. In the meantime, we'll have all the talking points covered with stories from the guys in Nervesa della Battaglia, or you could even tune into our live coverage of the Tour of California, starting soon. Either way, I'll leave you with this shot of Viviani. Back with a vengeance.
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