Friday/10 September 2010
After a prolonged drought at the Vuelta a España, the monsoon season has arrived for Mark Cavendish. The Columbia sprinter won his second consecutive sprint finish, quickly turning the streak of futility broken only yesterday into a situation of abundant success. It seems a familiar pattern by now — Cavendish stays cold in the first week of a grand tour, comes out of the first rest day and begins dominating his peers.
A long transfer across northeast Spain from Lleida brought the peloton to Rincón de Soto for the start of Stage 13. The pace remained high through the first intermediate sprint 8 km into the stage, every breakaway attempt reeled in before it could even develop a legitimate gap. At the sprint point in Calahorra, Tyler Farrar took top points ahead of Wouter Weylandt and Cavendish despite his favorite lead-out man Julian Dean dropping out of the race before the start of the stage. The four points (versus just one new one earned by the Manxman) brought the young American sprinter to within six points of the lead.
Once the sprint was past, the peloton allowed a five-man move to drift off the front about 30 km in to fight the headwind/crosswind that was making things more difficult than necessary. Allan Davis (Astana), Olivier Kaisen (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Niki Terpstra (Milram), Giampaolo Cheula, (Footon–Servetto) and Manuele Mori (Lampre-Farnese Vini) comprised the quintet — none a threat to Igor Anton or the other GC contenders, as Mori was the GC leader of the group, 52 minutes behind Anton in the standings.
Thus these five found the freedom to get up the road and build their lead quickly. At the 50-kilometer point, Mori and the others had gained nearly six minutes on the road. There was no incentive for teams like Euskaltel-Euskadi, Caisse d’Epargne or Liquigas to chase them down, so it fell to the sprinters’ teams to initiate the hunt. The lead ballooned to as much as eight minutes, but it wouldn’t last all the way to Burgos.
Columbia and Garmin took over at the front of the charging main field, driving the peloton and slicing the gap down minute by minute to set up Cavendish and Farrar for another duel. They let the breakaway hover out, maintaining a steady gap around six minutes. Pull it in too soon and a counterattack could lay waste to all their hard work; start pulling too late and the catch might not come before the finish. It was now an exercise in real-time mathematics as strategy became of paramount importance.
Once they passed the 100 km mark on the road, though, the peloton made light work of reeling in the leaders. With less than 80 km until Burgos, the lead had shrunk to less than four minutes. Without any truly significant climbs in the day’s profile, there was little chance that the quintet off the front would stay away until the finish line — especially given the determination of Garmin and Columbia and even Quick Step (for veteran Wouter Weylandt and youngster Andreas Stauff) to reunite things.
The breakaway stayed clear over the Category 3 Alto de Padrilla. The 5.9 km climb, averaging 5.9% grades on its slopes, passed by with just 60 kilometers remaining. The gap held at just over three minutes until the summit, Allan Davis claiming the maximum points at the top out of the break. On the descent the fireworks really started, the gap finally melting away as Burgos neared.
The Category 3 Alto de Valmala, coming less than forty kilometers from the finish, was the last obstacle on the route. The leaders had just two minutes after cresting the climb and thirty kilometers left to try to stay clear. The sprinters, of course, had a different idea. Driving hard, the catch finally came with less than four kilometers remaining to the line.
And so it was in the final kilometer that the sprinters amassed with their lead-out trains all battling for the stage win. With less than 500 meters to go, Cavendish made his decisive move, accelerating clear of the field far enough to pop a little bunny hop over the finish line. The Manx Missile hit his target a second straight time, the trajectory clearly corrected from the first week’s near misses. Love him or hate him, nobody can deny that he has an instinctive feel for victory and a flair for showmanship that makes him one of the faces of the sport. And the victory at Farrar’s expense served to negate the early intermediate-sprint gains of the American. After starting cold, Cavendish is now en fuego…
STAGE 13 RESULTS
|1||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC-Columbia||4:50:18|
|2||Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervélo Test Team|
|3||Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo|
|4||Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ|
|5||Manuel Cardoso (Por) Footon-Servetto|
|6||Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Transitions|
|7||Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Team Katusha|
|8||Koldo Fernandez De Larrea (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi|
|9||Theo Bos (Ned) Cervélo Test Team|
|10||Johnnie Walker (Aus) Footon-Servetto|
|1||Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi||56:28:03|
|2||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo||0:00:45|
|3||Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervélo Test Team||0:01:04|
|4||Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha||0:01:17|
|5||Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia||0:01:29|
|6||Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Caisse d’Epargne||0:01:57|
|7||Ruben Plaza (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne||0:02:07|
|8||Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d’Epargne||0:02:13|
|9||Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2R-La Mondiale||0:02:30|
|10||Frank Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank|
|1||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC-Columbia||111||pts|
|2||Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Transitions||90|
|3||Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi||75|
|4||Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto||67|
|5||Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervélo Test Team||57|
|6||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo||54|
|7||David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, le crédit en ligne||53|
|8||Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo||53|
|9||Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha||48|
|10||Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Team Katusha||48|
KING OF THE MOUNTAINS
|1||David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, le crédit en ligne||41||pts|
|2||Serafin Martinez (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia||36|
|3||Gonzalo Rabunal (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia||25|
|4||Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi||15|
|5||Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervélo Test Team||11|
|6||Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) FDJ||10|
|7||Oscar Pujol (Spa) Cervélo Test Team||10|
|8||Johann Tschopp (Swi) BBOX Bouygues Telecom||10|
|9||Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia||10|
|10||Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quick Step||8|
|3||Euskaltel – Euskadi||0:08:49|
|4||Cervelo Test Team||0:10:46|
|5||Omega Pharma – Lotto||0:12:50|
|6||AG2R – La Mondiale||0:13:51|
|8||Liquigas – Doimo||0:25:27|
|10||Lampre – Farese Vini||0:31:52|