World champion makes it three victories in this year's race as he comes through to clinch sprint...

Mark Cavendish of Team Sky has won the tenth Giro d'Italia stage win of his career in Cervere this afternoon after a hard-fought finish in which the world champion seemed to be boxed in but somehow found space on the barriers to the left to win from Alexander Kristoff of Katusha, with Rabobank's Mark Renshaw third. With today's victory, his third of this year's race, Cavendish consolidates his lead in the points classification, although the race heads into the hig mountains tomorrow. Katusha's Joaquin Rodriguez retains the race lead, but the battle for the maglia rosa will begin in earnest this weekend.

Team Saxo Bank, working for Argentine sprinter JJ Haedo, led the peloton into the closing 2 kilometres, Matteo Tosatto driving them along, but behind them were Team Sky who took up the pace ahead of the flamme rouge on the long, straight run-in to the finish.

Inside the final kilometre, GreenEdge moved to the front as they looked to lead out Matt Goss, and with other riders including Colnago CSF Inox’s Sacha Modolo and FDJ’s Arnaud Demare also in the mix, it made for a scrappy and hard fought closing few hundred metres, but one that thankfully was not marred by the type of crash seen in most sprint finishes on this year’s race.

With the business end of the 2012 Giro starting tomorrow as the race moves into the high mountains for the start of the third and final week, today’s stage, at 121km by far the shortest of the race, ended up being a relatively tame affair until that frantic finish.

Although attacks had been expected from the start as the race immediately headed uphill from the start in the port of Savona on the Ligurian coas and into Piedmontt, the peloton was happy to let Martijn Kaizer of Vacansoleil-DCM and fellow escapee Francesco Failli of Farnese Vini jump away after little more than a kilometre.

The pair, who would be kept on a reasonably tight leash with a maximum advantage of five and a half minutes, would eventually be swallowed back into the peloton with 22km left to ride.

With 6km to go, a trio of riders – AG2R’s Julian Berard, Julien Vermote of Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Fabio Felline of Androni-Giocattoli-Venezuela tried to get away on the final, short climb of today’s stage, which had a rolling profile but one that was less taxing than yesterday’s tough stage in the hills inland from the Ligurian coast.

The trio were soon brought back, however, as the sprinters’ teams started jostling for position ahead of the finale.

Prior to that, for the fourth time this week, breakaway specialist Kaizer, who had started the day in second place overall in the breakaway classification behind Lotto-Belisol’s Olivier Kaisen, had been the first rider across the intermediate sprint, which today came at Carrù, 38.3 kilometres from the finish.

After the two breakaway riders, the man who led the peloton across the day’s intermediate sprint was the maglia rossa himself, Cavendish, who has looked to pick up extra points wherever possible during the race.

The fact that he did so today is possibly a signal that he intends to take the fight for the jersey all the way to Milan, although there is only one potential sprint finish left in the race, at Vadelago next Thursday.

With the climbers also in the chase for points, however – unlike the Tour de France or the Vuelta, the Giro does not weigh the scale towards the flat stages – the world champion has cause to rue the crashes on Stage 3 and Stage 9 that took him out of the contest for the win and potential points within the closing few hundred metres on each occasion.

While today's finale was crash-free, there was a blow for NetApp, the German UCI Professional Continental team that celebrated its wild card entry to this year’s race by changing the green stripe on its kit to pink, when Reto Hollenstein crashed on a short descent early on in the stage and was taken to hospital with a suspected broken collarbone.

TV replays subsequently showed that the Swiss rider had drifted into the side of a TV motorbike that was travelling downhill to the left of the peloton and at a slightly slower pace, the director of host broadcaster RAI immediately offering an on-air apology to the team, describing the incident as “involuntary.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 13 result

1  CAVENDISH Mark           SKY     3:02:07
2  KRISTOFF Alexander       KAT all at same time
3  RENSHAW Mark             RAB
4  MODOLO Sacha             COG 
5  FAVILLI Elia             FAR 
6  GOSS Matthew Harley      OGE 
7  DEMARE Arnaud            FDJ 
8  HAEDO Lucas Sebastian    SAX 
9  COLBRELLI Sonny          COG 
10 BELLETTI Manuel          ALM 
11 VANENDERT Dennis         LTB 
12 CHICCHI Francesco        OPQ 
13 DELAGE Mickael           FDJ 
14 WYSS Danilo              BMC 
15 FERRARI Roberto          AND 
16 HAEDO Juan Jose'         SAX 
17 NIZZOLO Giacomo          RNT 
18 PONZI Simone             AST 
19 HUNTER Robert            GRM 
20 BODNAR Maciej            LIQ

Overall Standings after Stage 13

1  Joaquin RODRIGUEZ        KAT     54:21:15
2  Ryder HESJEDAL           GRM        at 17
3  Sandy CASAR              FDJ           26
4  Paolo TIRALONGO          AST           32
5  Ivan SANTAROMITA         BMC           49
6  Roman KREUZIGER          AST           52
7  Benat INTXAUSTI          MOV           52
8  Ivan BASSO               LIQ           57
9  Damiano CARUSO           LIQ         1:02
10 Dario CATALDO            OPQ         1:03

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.