Marco Canola (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) won the 13th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Friday.
Canola was part of a six-man breakaway group that formed at the start of the stage. Eventually it was whittled down to three, and the trio was able to hold off the chasing peloton at the finish by mere seconds.
Jackson Rodriguez (Androni Giocattoli) took second and Angelo Tulik (Europcar) was third.
“I hope that this will be the first of many wins,” Canola said. “I wasn’t in great form in the last stages, I felt that I lacked energy and my legs felt empty. … I kept patient for this day, I got the right day.”
Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) will wear the pink leader’s jersey for another day as the race hits the mountains this weekend. Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) is 37 seconds back in second and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) is third at 1:52 back.
“Never an easy day in the Giro, it was still a dangerous stage,” Uran said. “We didn’t want to take any risks today so we rode at the front all day, but we were not riding to control the breakaway. Tomorrow and … Sunday, the Giro starts, I hope the legs are good.”
The three leading men held a 1:19 lead over the peloton with 10 kilometers remaining in the 158km route from Fossano to Rivarolo Canavese. The gap held steady around a minute as the peloton failed to organize a real chase.
In the last 2km, however, the main field upped its pace and tried to reach the finish line first. Garmin-Sharp was leading the way, with its sprinter Tyler Farrar hungry for a stage win. But the effort came too late.
Even with the three leaders playing a game of cat and mouse in the final 750 meters, the peloton — which was now just seconds behind them — was still out of range.
At the apex of a right turn with 250 meters to go, Canola opened up his sprint. Rodriguez held onto his wheel and tried to pass him in the closing meters, but Canola beat him by half a bike length. Tulik was another length or two behind them.
“We had a good group, I was close and I’m sorry not to pull it off,” Rodriguez said. “25 or 20k from the finish, we split it, we were all in agreement, to go for it and try to get the stage, we were confident. Thanks to everyone here, [sport director] Gianni Savio, and everyone who believed in me.”
As has been the case in almost every stage at this Giro, the weather played a factor Friday. With about 65km left, riders began pulling on rain jackets with showers on the horizon. But two riders had a big scare.
First it was Vladimir Gusev (Katusha), whose jacket got caught in his rear brake. Immediately the rear wheel locked up and his bike swung violently around and forward. He fell hard and fast, but thankfully the team cars were to his right, not behind him. He got up and despite a ripped pair of bib shorts, he got on another bike and resumed pedaling.
A short time later, the same thing happened to Thomas Dekker (Garmin-Sharp). He didn’t crash, but his rear wheel appeared to be damaged. A team mechanic quickly put on a new wheel and gave him a push as he rejoined the peloton.
Later, with around 30km remaining, the remnants of a spring hailstorm were scattered all over the road. White piles of hail were everywhere — on the road, in the grass, and on the roofs of buildings. There were also sticks, leaves, and other debris on the wet pavement.
A race official on the back of a motorcycle even waved a red flag at the front of the peloton to slow down the riders as they made their way through the debris.
Once the two main groups were through the weather, the road dried out and conditions improved. During the 22km finishing circuit, however, the field rode through another rainstorm.
Canola, Rodriguez, and Tulik were part of a six-man group that formed shortly after the stage began. Along with the other three riders — Jeffry Johan Romero (Colombia), Gert Dockx (Lotto-Belisol), and Maxim Belkov (Katusha) — the group worked together all day and held a steady gap of around 3-4 minutes.
The escapees’ advantage dropped slightly on the descent following a Cat. 4 climb that peaked with 35km left, but the six riders pressed on and used the poor weather and road conditions to their advantage. They were able to weave through the debris on the road as they made their way through the hail and fallen leaves, while the peloton was forced to hit the brakes and take it easy.
Just before the intermediate sprint of the day with 13km left, the break split up as the riders fought for the points. Canola, Rodriguez, and Tulik emerged at the front and did not let up their furious pace when they passed under the 10km-to-go banner.
From that point, the trio’s hard effort — coupled with the peloton’s lack of organization — helped it remain ahead to the finish line.
The race heads into the mountains for two days of climbing starting with Saturday’s 162km stage from Agliè to Oropa.