Mark Cavendish came out victorious yet again in Stage 13 of the Giro d'Italia (per Cycling Weekly), but it was cyclist withdrawals that dominated storylines Friday instead of the participants on the course.
According to BBC News, British star Bradley Wiggins withdrew from the event after days of battling a chest infection. Last year's Tour de France and Olympic champion has become arguably the most well-known cyclist in the world and his departure from the tournament sent shock waves down the field.
Wiggins wasn't the only pertinent cyclist to take himself out of the running Friday, as defending champion Ryder Hesjedal also withdrew with a "deteriorating physical condition," according to CBC Sports.
The big news made for a relatively quiet day on the roads until the final stretch came along. It seemed as if the top competitors saved their best for last, as attacking runs came often. Heading into the final few kilometers, it was up for the taking.
And as it usually goes in such sprints to the finish, Cavendish prevailed for his fourth stage victory of this event and the 101st of his career.
Italian native Vincenzo Nibali retained his overall lead, as he's 41 seconds ahead of famous Australian cyclist Cadel Evans. As the only two cyclists within two minutes of the lead, the championship is likely down to these two contenders.
After rainy conditions the previous day, Friday brought much more favorable (yet still not ideal) conditions for the racers as they took off from the beautiful sights of Busseto, Italy, according to the race's official Twitter feed.
Stage 13 Results
|1||Mark Cavendish||Omega Pharma/Quick Step||Great Britain||6:09:55|
|2||Giacomo Nizzolo||Radioshack Leopard||Italy||+:00|
|6||Manuel Belletti||AG2R La Mondiale||Italy||+:00|
|7||Daniele Bennati||Team Saxo-Tinkoff||Italy||+:00|
|10||Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez||Androni Giocattoli||Colombia||+:00|
For a complete list of Stage 13 results, visit the race's official site.
Stage 13 Route
|2||Cadel Evans||BMC Racing||Australia||+:41|
|3||Rigoberto Uran Uran||Sky Procycling||Colombia||+2:04|
|4||Robert Gesink||Blanco Pro Cycling||Netherlands||+2:12|
|5||Michele Scarponi||Lampre-Merida||Italy||+2:13 |
|6||Mauro Santambrogio||Vini Fantini/SelleItalia||Italy||+2:55|
|9||Domenico Pozzovivo||AG2R La Mondiale||Italy||+4:17|
To see where every cyclist stands after 13 stages, visit the race's official site.
Highlights and Recap
It should come as absolutely no surprise by now that Cavendish has won a stage event.
The 27-year-old hardly ever competes to win big races, but he's proven his worth as the best pure stage cyclist in the sport. Nobody can go down a straight distance faster than Cav.
But what he's doing in Italy this year should trump everything else going on. His fourth stage victory of the tournament speaks for itself, but 101 career stage wins? You've got to be kidding.
As for the overall leaders, the homeland is representing itself incredibly. Four Italians clutter the top 10 of the leaderboard, with Nibali heading up the competitors.
He can't afford to rest on his lead, though. Evans is right on his heels and is arguably the most famous active cyclist. All of that is for a reason, as he's dominated the post-Lance Armstrong era.
With Wiggins out of the running now, Evans has a big opportunity to reclaim his dominance of the sport and gain some popularity before the Tour de France next month.
Whether you're into the sprint racing or the overall race, the Giro d'Italia is where to look for top-flight racing coverage until the Tour de France opens up in late June.
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