With the battles fought, the Giro won and lost, the 2013 Giro d'Italia finished their three-week ride with a 170.9km (107mi) stage from Riese Pio X to Brescia. The mountains scaled, all that was left was a flat run finishing with a criterium.
The Cannondale Pro Cycling team, having done their maximum for Damiano Caruso in the mountains yesterday, turned their attention to doing the same for their sprinter, Elia Viviani. He was second on the first stage; perhaps he can finish first on the last.
While this is the first road stage finish for the Giro since 2007, this sort of final stage is very much tradition in Grand Tours. And tradition dictates that the race leader's team leads the race to the finishing circuit in a low-tempo parade. And once on the circuits, the race begins.
That team, Astana, rode a long pace line with their leader, Maglia Rosa Vincenzo Nibali, savoring his all-but-assured victory.
But before the circuits began, there was a little business to take care of. Omega Pharma-Quickstep's sprinter beyond compare, Mark Cavendish, lost his red Points Leader jersey at yesterday's finish to race leader Nibali. As Cav' wanted the jersey outright, he needed to win points on the road. And his team came to the fore and shot Cav' across the line first at the intermediate sprint in Sirmione.
Once in Brescia, the race allowed former winner Stefano Garzelli of Vini Fantini, the Giro champion in 2000, to savor a moment of honor, leading the peloton across the finish line for the first of seven laps of a tight, twisty 4.15km (2.6mi) city center circuit.
Then, the race began. Giairo Ermeti of Androni shot out of the peloton. Omega Pharma chased him down in search of more points for Cav'. And, on the final intermediate sprint line, Cav' took them, and with that clinched his hold on the Points Competition. Or did he? There was confusion in the peloton as to when the final intermediate sprint was. Omega Pharma made sure that Cav' "won" the first three laps just to be certain. It turned out the third time was the charm.
16km (10mi) to go the race to the finish line was reset and started anew. Omega Pharma, concerned that the narrow course would be hard for moving up, stayed at the front, driving the pace as hard as they could, hoping to control the race to the final 200 meters. Cannondale, thinking the same, started moving up en masse.
With two laps remaining, the race hit fever pitch, as competing sprint trains tried moving up and displacing Omega Pharma from the front. Bardiani tried, and faded. Orica-Greenedge came closer, and dropped back. All the while Cannondale was following Omega Pharma.
On the final lap, Omega Pharma was tiring, and the Cannondale train stormed by the sputtering Belgian squad on the final set of turns and into the last kilometer.
Primed to launch Viviani for the win, Cannondale kept bearing down on the finish. Before Viviani could start his sprint, Bardiani's Sacha Modolo jumped too early, drawing Cavendish in his wake. Viviani's advantage suddenly negated, he jumped to follow Cav', but it was too late. Cavendish streaked off for the win, with Modolo in second. Viviani had to console himself with third.
The stage win in Brescia was Cav's fifth of this Giro. This is Nibali's first time wearing Pink to the end of the Giro. It's his second Grand Tour win.
For Cannondale, it was a successful race. Viviani and his lead-out train proved he deserves a spot at the sharp end of the peloton in bunch sprints. Caruso, a last-minute addition to the Giro roster, had a great third week; something that is necessary if one wants to win a Grand Tour. As both riders are young, they have demonstrated that they could be the ones winning five stages and taking the Giro in a few years time.
This concludes of coverage of the 2013 Giro d'Italia. Thanks for tuning in. While the Giro has ended, the racing season is still in full flight. The Cannondale Pro Cycling Team has a full plate of races for the summer. Stay tuned to find out how they make out racing with the best cyclists in the world.
Giro d'Italia 2013
Riese Pio X to Brescia 170.9km
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step in 5:30:09
2. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox at same time
3. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling same time
4. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack Leopard same time
5. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team Argos-Shimano same time
Stage Results Cannondale Pro Cycling
35. Fabio Sabatini (Ita) same time
48. Damiano Caruso (Ita) same time
53. Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita) 0:00:12
69. Alan Marangoni (Ita) 0:00:40
89. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) 0:00:44
90. Cristiano Salerno (Ita) same time
123. Cameron Wurf (Aus) 0:01:25
151. Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col) 0:02:20
Final General Classification
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 84:53:28
2. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:04:43
3. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:05:52
4. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:06:48
5. Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Ag2R La Mondiale 0:07:28
Final General Classification Cannondale Pro Cycling
19. Damiano Caruso (Ita) 0:30:56
67. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) 2:06:59
86. Cristiano Salerno (Ita) 2:34:25
91. Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col) 2:37:50
93. Fabio Sabatini (Ita) 2:40:29
113. Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita) 3:00:15
114. Alan Marangoni (Ita) 3:00:24
119. Elia Viviani (Ita) 3:04:25
128. Cameron Wurf (Aus) 3:19:38
Good day and welcome to the Live Update Guy’s Live Coverage of the 21st and final stage of the 2013 Giro d’Italia, a long, flat ride from Riese Pio X to Brescia, where riders will complete eight laps of a 4.15-kilometer circuit.
Riese Pio X is named in honor of native son, Guiseppe Sarto, who grew up in Riese and went on to serve as Pope Pius X, from 1903 until his death, at the age of 79, in 1914. The town later added the “Pio X” in honor of the man who was canonized on May 29, 1954.
The peloton is still together and - if tradition applies - we're unlikely to see an attack until after the Astana team leads Nibali on to the first of eight laps on the final circuit.
Cav' won first intermediate sprint
47.9kph from three to two to go.
Omega Pharma almost burned out.
2.5km Cannondale moving to the front.
2km Cav has only two riders. Cannondale is just behind.
Cannondale just behind Cav
Cannondale moving up. They've got the front into the left.
Cannondale has two for Viviani.
Cav has once guybheind viviani.
Cav gets it.