Marco Canola (Bardiani-CSF) claimed a surprise victory by winningn stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia after the breakaway unexpectedly stayed away.
Canola, was one of six men to form the break very early in the day and having accelerated to split the group in half, outsprinted Jackson Rodriguez (Androni Giacottoli-Venezuela) and Angelo Tulik (Team Europcar) to take the stage win.
With the sprint teams all looking to each other to do the chasing in the bunch on slick roads, Canola, Rodriguez and Tulik sensed their opportunity to stay clear, working together in the final kilometres.
As each rider zipped up their jersey with 700 metres remaining, a tactical sprint ensued with no one rider wanting to take it up.
But as the peloton came into sight behind them, the three riders started the sprint, with Canola picking the best line and launching a long one – staying clear from 250 metres out to just hold off the challenge of Rodriguez.
Rodriguez had joined the day’s break almost from the flag, perhaps with the words of directeur sportif Gianni Savio – who had been furious to see none of his riders in the break on the last road stage, two days earlier – ringing in his ears.
Gert Dockx (Lotto-Belisol) and Jeffry Romero (Colombia) were also in the break, with Maxim Belkov (Katusha) bridging across to make it a six-strong group.
They were never afforded much of a gap on the flat stage, with several sprint teams putting riders near the front, and maglia rosa Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) protected by his team-mates.
For much of the stage, there seemed little danger of the break staying clear, particularly when their advantage had been cut to less than one-and-a-half minutes on the day’s lone climb, the category four ascent of Salita di Rivara.
With little action to cause concern – apart from Vladimir Gusev (Katusha) and Thomas Dekker (Garmin-Sharp) taking separate tumbles when their rain jackets got caught in their wheels – there was no reason to suggest the bunch would not eventually reel the escapees in, particularly with the sprint teams perhaps sensing one last opportunity to grab a stage win.
However, with hailstones making for very wet roads at the 30 kilometres to go banner, the peloton suddenly appeared reluctant to take up the chase.
Slowing down on the slick roads, it was actually the teams of Uran, Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) leading the bunch – and with little desire for a sprint finish the gap grew slightly again.
Even so, when Canola split the break as he attacked towards the day’s intermediate sprint point – Rodriguez and Tulik staying with him – it looked as though he had gone too soon and the race would come back together.
However, 15 kilometres to go soon became ten and then even less as Nacer Bouhanni, winner of three sprint stages so far at this year’s Giro, tried to organise his FDJ.fr team-mates in the bunch – without wanting to take up the chase alone.
Each sprint team tried to call the other’s bluff, with the result being that none took up the chase and Canola sensed his opportunity, attacking his fellow escapees.
The experienced head of Rodriguez came to the fore however, as he ordered calm and the three instead worked hard together to maintain their gap, which stood at exactly one minute under the flamme rouge.
A tactical finale ensued, with none of the three wanting to start the sprint and potentially lead out a rival, but as Garmin-Sharp and Trek Factory Racing finally took up the chase in the bunch – appearing in the background – it prompted all three to step on the gas again.
And it was Canola who picked the better line around the final bend, taking up the sprint from the front and staying there to seal a prized victory for the Italian Pro Continental team.
Giro d’Italia 2014: stage 13 – result
1) Marco Canola (ITA) – Bardiani-CSF – 3.37.20hrs
2) Jackson Rodriguez (VEN) – Androni Giacottoli-Venezuela – ST
3) Angelo Tulik (FRA) – Team Europcar
4) Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) – FDJ.fr +11”
5) Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA) – Trek Factory Racing – ST
6) Elia Viviani (ITA) – Cannondale
7) Luka Mezgec (SVN) – Giant-Shimano
8) Ben Swift (GBR) – Team Sky
9) Tyler Farrar (USA) – Garmin-Sharp
10) Borut Bozic (SVN) – Astana
1) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep – 53.15.06hrs
2) Cadel Evans (AUS) – BMC Racing +37”
3) Rafal Majka (POL) – Tinkoff-Saxo +1.52
4) Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +2.32
5) Wilco Kelderman (NED) – Belkin Pro Cycling +2.50
6) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar +3.29
7) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana +3.37
8) Wouter Poels (NED) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +4.06
9) Steve Morabito (SUI) – BMC Racing +4.20
10) Robert Kiserlovski (CRO) – Trek Factory Racing +4.41