Marco Canola of Bardiani-CSF held off a challenge from two fellow escapees to win Stage 13 of the Giro d'Italia in Rivarolo Canavese this afternoon, one that had been widely expected to finish with a bunch sprint. Androni Giocattoli's Jackson Rodriguez finished second, with Europcar's Angelo Tulik third. Omega Pharma-Quick Step's Rigoberto Uran retains the race lead.
The trio that contested the finish had been part of a six-man breakaway group that had formed early on in the 158km stage from Fossano, which skirted Turin on its way to the finish, the others being Colombia’s Jeffry Johan Romero, Gert Dockx and Katusha’s Maxim Belkov, who bridged across to join the initial five attackers.
With today being one of the last opportunities for the sprinters, they were never allowed too much leeway, and with 16km remaining three of them – Rodriguez, Tulik and Romero, forced the pace to try and stay away.
With 10km left, the trio had an advantage of 15 seconds over their closest pursuers and 1 minute 20 seconds over the peloton, with the sprinters’ teams trying in vain to force the pace to try and reel them in.
The three riders at the head of the race managed to maintain theri advantage, however, and coming off the final right-hand bend with 250 metres remaining, the 25-year-old Canola launched his sprint for the line and held off his rivals for the biggest win of his career and one that will make his team's Giro.
On another day when the weather affected the race – there were rainstorms and even hail at one point – two riders, Katusha’s Vladimir Gusev and Garmin Sharp’s Thomas Dekker, came off in near-identical incidents when their rain jackets became tangled up in their wheels. Both were able to continue.
Following his stage win, Canola said: “I knew there was a hailstorm ahead of us although, with 60 km or more to go, I don’t think any of us in the breakaway believed very much. But the route was rolling, even if it didn’t look like it on paper, and there were lots of curves. I really committed myself to it, and the others followed, And, in the end, I was right.
“There is no such thing as unfavourable conditions, there are only people who give up, and in this team, we never give up! It’s good that we can’t see the future. If everything went the way we expected, there’d be no surprises. That’s why you have to stick at it. Today you could say I was lucky, but on other days I’ve had bad luck. But you have to go for it - that’s the rule of cycling.
“As an U23 rider, I lost many important races after being caught in the final 300m. I’m a strong rouleur and I have a pretty good sprint, but it’s not easy to emerge in this sport. I was a a promising rider as a junior: I had 7 wins, I rode for the national team, and I achieved good things. That continued into my first year at under-23 level. Then, in my 2nd year of under-23, I had some problems. My father died after illness. But with good people around me, I came through it, and I learned that it isn’t just the result that counts, it is the memory you leave behind of who you are.”
Looking ahead to the weekend, race leader Uran said: “The stage to Oropa [tomorrow] is going to be beautiful, but every stage here means something. Being at the Giro means something, wearing the Maglia Rosa means something.
"I have a lot of respect for the race, and there’s still a long way to go. In a race like the Giro, something can happen every day. Yesterday, I was strong, but there are riders here like Quintana and Pozzovivo, who are in good shape, and I’d add Majka to that list. I’ve a lead, but in the end it’s very small one.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.