Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) sprinted to victory on the pan-flat stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia, as a very late crash split the general classification and saw the pink jersey change hands.
The crash, with 3.2 kilometres to go, saw race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) caught out while Richie Porte (Team Sky) once again lost more time.
Fabio Aru was the big winner as far as the pink jersey goes, having got himself in the front group when the peloton split to claim the race lead, while it was a double Italian celebration thanks to Modolo’s win.
Lampre-Merida took charge of the front group at the perfect time, with Modolo finishing the job off ahead of Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing) and Elia Viviani (Team Sky).
With an entirely flat route set out for the stage, not even the rain and a bit of wind could stop it playing out exactly as expected for the most part, but the dramatic finale ensured it would be another day to remember at the 2015 Giro.
A group of five attempted to go clear early on, and three of those, Marco Frapporti (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Rick Zabel (BMC Racing) and Jerome Pineau (IAM Cycling), eventually formed the day’s break.
With Tinkoff-Saxo marshalling the peloton on behalf of Alberto Contador, who started the day as race leader, with the assistance of the chief sprint teams, the break was never given a massive advantage.
The pace changed momentarily at the intermediate sprint, where red jersey Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF) poached more points, but the only other early drama involved the break being held up at a railway level crossing.
The peloton was stopped to make up for the break’s lost advantage, but again the gap was never allowed to grow particularly big and the three leaders were swept up with ease.
Trek Factory Racing, for Giacomo Nizzolo, hit the front as they approached the twists and turns – and road furniture – of the final seven kilometres, and the main drama of the day was saved for the crash which occurred just outside the safe haven of the three kilometres to go banner. Had the crash happened just 200m later, no riders would have lost time on GC.
Instead, an innocuous touch of wheels in the middle of the bunch saw several riders go down, with Contador and Porte both caught behind the spill, while Aru was the right side of the split in the white jersey.
At the head of affairs, Lampre-Merida took charge to deliver Modolo to victory, the Italian claiming his first Giro stage win having led the sprint out from the front.
Behind, all eyes were on the clock and the GC men, with Contador, on a team-mate’s bike, having recovered somewhat to finish 40 seconds down – not enough, though, to stop Aru claiming the pink jersey, who now leads the Spaniard by 19 seconds.
Porte was less lucky, finishing two minutes down – also on a team-mates’s bike – as the Australian suffered another disastrous day to obliterate his Giro hopes.
Giro d’Italia 2015: stage 13 – result
1) Sacha Modolo (ITA) – Lampre-Merida – 3.03.08hrs
2) Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA) – Trek Factory Racing – ST
3) Elia Viviani (ITA) – Team Sky
4) Aleksandr Porsev (RUS) – Katusha
5) Eduard Michael Grosu (ROM) – Nippo-Vini Fantini
6) Axel Maximilian Richeze (ARG) – Lampre-Merida
7) Moreno Hofland (NED) – Team LottoNL-Jumbo
8) Nicola Ruffoni (ITA) – Bardiani-CSF
9) Luka Mezgec (SVN) – Giant-Alpecin
10) Heinrich Haussler (AUS) – IAM Cycling
General classification (provisional)
1) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana – 54.20.35hrs
2) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Tinkoff-Saxo +19”
3) Mikel Landa (ESP) – Astana +1.14
4) Roman Kreuziger (CZE) – Tinkoff-Saxo +1.38
5) Dario Cataldo (ITA) – Astana +1.49
6) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Etixx-QuickStep +2.02
7) Damiano Caruso (ITA) – BMC Racing +2.12
8) Andrey Amador (CRC) – Movistar +2.21
9) Giovanni Visconti (ITA) – Movistar +2.40
10) Yury Trofimov (RUS) – Katusha +3.15