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Mark Cavendish continued his remarkable Giro d Italia with a fourth stage win as the British favourite for overall honours, Sir Bradley Wiggins, returned home to try to be fit in time for the Tour de France.
On any other day Cavendish would be the only story.
It was his 101st career victory, his 40th in the three Grand Tours, of Italy, France and Spain, and it consolidated his lead in the Giro’s red points jersey.
This win in Cherasco, at the end of the longest stage of the race, might even be the pick of the 40.
Successive stages: Mark Cavendish sprints towards first place on Stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia POINTS STANDINGS 1.
Mark Cavendish (Britain / Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) 108 2.
Cadel Evans (Australia / BMC Racing) 73 3.
Elia Viviani (Italy / Cannondale) 72 4.
Giacomo Nizzolo (Italy / RadioShack) 59 5.
Maxim Belkov (Russia / Katusha) 55 6.
Rigoberto Uran (Colombia / Team Sky) 53 7.
Mauro Santambrogio (Italy / Vini Fantini) 52 8.
Enrico Battaglin (Italy / Bardiani Valvole) 45 9.
Vincenzo Nibali (Italy / Astana) 45 10.
Carlos Betancur (Colombia / AG2R) 43 The 27-year-old Cavendish survived the climbs that came towards the end of the 254 kilometres and was forced to improvise in the final stretch, jumping aboard a rival team’s train and coming from a long way back jumping at 350 metres rather than his usual 200 to just edge out Giacomo Nizzolo.
It is a bit of a bonus, but I am so tired, said Cavendish, who didn t indulge in his usual celebrations with his Omega Pharma-Quick-Step team-mates, instead slumping to the road in a state of exhaustion.
I don t know how I am going to recover from this before the mountains.
With two brutal days in the Alps ahead of them, Cavendish admitted: I am on my knees.
Wiggins, meanwhile, was on his way home.
He described his withdrawal as heartbreaking and said he had been suffering with a chest infection since Saturday’s time trial and stopped on the advice of the Team Sky doctor, Richard Freeman.
Withdrawal: Bradley Wiggins, the pre-race favourite, dropped out to concentrate on the Tour de France OVERALL STANDINGS 1.
Vincenzo Nibali (Italy / Astana) 52:38:09″ 2.
Cadel Evans (Australia / BMC Racing) +41″ 3.
Rigoberto Uran (Colombia / Team Sky) +2:04″ 4.
Robert Gesink (Netherlands / Blanco) +2:12″ 5.
Michele Scarponi (Italy / Lampre) +2:13″ 6.
Mauro Santambrogio (Italy / Vini Fantini) +2:55″ 7.
Przemyslaw Niemiec (Poland / Lampre) +3:35″ 8.
Benat Intxausti (Spain / Movistar) +4:05″ 9.
Domenico Pozzovivo (Italy / AG2R) +4:17″ 10.
Rafal Majka (Poland / Saxo – Tinkoff) +4:21″ The decision was made with a view to being back to full strength for the Tour, Wiggins told Sky Sports Italia yesterday morning.
Had we continued in this Giro, the risk was that I did more damage long-term, so I think the team have taken the decision to put a stop to it now and start thinking about getting back to full strength for the Tour.
I am disappointed, but some things you can t control.
It is really disappointing to stop in this way because we came here for so much more.
Wiggins travelled to Italy with thoughts of a Giro-Tour double, but leaves with slim hopes of salvaging his season by successfully defending his Tour title.
That aim is fraught with complications not only on account of his health, but also because his team-mate, Chris Froome, seems likely to stand in the way.
Dave Brailsford, the Team Sky principal, confirmed last week that the team will go to the Tour with one leader , and that Froome is the likeliest candidate.
He sounded a slightly more ambiguous note in Italy, however, as he reflected on Wiggins Giro exit and its possible ramifications for the Tour.
It’s too early to say, said Brailsford.
We ll wait and see.
We ve got to assess his health first and then take it from there.
Leaders side by side: Cavendish pedals with the current leader of the race Vincenzo Nibali
1 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha 19hrs 56mins 39secs 2 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling at 0.17secs 3 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team at 0.26 4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team at 0.31 5 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp at 0.34 6 Bradley Wiggins (Gbr) Sky Procycling at same time 7 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha at 0.36 8 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling at 0.37 9 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia at 0.39 10 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team at 0.42 The pack pedals along the coast en route to Matera yesterday.
Photograph: Fabio Ferrari/AP
Sir Bradley Wiggins remains in sixth place in the Giro d’Italia after Germany’s John Degenkolb won the fifth stage following a dramatic crash in the final kilometre.
Degenkolb was one of the favourites for the stage given both his sprinting and climbing ability and he marshalled his Argos-Shimano lead-out train to the front.
Hands in the air: Degenkolb celebrates winning stage five which was marred by a dramatic crash near the end Celebration: Argos-Shimano rider Degenkolb lies on the road as he celebrates his stage victory It appeared to be a sprint between Elia Viviani (Cannondale), Angel Vicioso (Katusha) and Degenkolb.
However, with the peloton ready for a sprint, one of Degenkolb’s fellow Argos-Shimano lead-out riders Luka Mezgec skidded into the barriers on a late corner in the wet conditions, taking out a number of racers and holding others up.
Off the pace: Wiggins remains in sixth place, 17 seconds behind leader Paolini The German sprinted for home to win in four hours 37 minutes 48 seconds ahead of Vicioso and Paul Martens (Team Blanco).
The breakaway riders and the peloton were awarded the same time by organisers as Degenkolb as Luca Paolini (Katusha) retained overall lead in the race.
Scenic: The pack pedals during the fifth stage of the Giro d’Italia from Cosenza to Matera But organisers awarded the same time to the breakaway riders and the peloton as Degenkolb and a few others broke free.
That sees Wiggins stay sixth overall and his team-mate Rigoberto Uran 17 seconds behind leader Paolini.
However, that was not good news for Omega Pharma Quick-Step rider Mark Cavendish as he was not part of the main group, and he finished in 127th.
Give us a kiss: Paolini is kissed by hostesses on the podium as he wears the overall leader pink jersey
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Some room-silencing deadpan answers to a series of questions on cycling from UKIP s local election candidate in East Chesterton, Cambridgeshire.
Q: What experience do you have of cycling in the Cambridgeshire area?
Q: Would you agree that creating very high-quality cycling routes to encourage new people to cycle offers by far the best cost-benefit ratio for transport improvements that facilitate growth of the City and surrounding areas?
A: You are asking for benefits paid for by other road users. I would prefer more car parks.
Q: Do you support our view that traffic policing, of all groups of road users (cyclists, drivers, etc), should become a greater police priority?
A: Cyclists are by far the most undisciplined road users. On several occasions, I have had to stop or dodge cyclists riding through red lights when crossing at pedestrian crossings.
More police attention to cyclists would be useful.
Q: Do you and your party support a new London-style bike plan for Cambridgeshire?
A: No. This proposal amounts to theft from the people who pay to use roads and the benefit given to those who don t.
Q: Do you support our proposal for The Chisholm Trail , a cycling and walking linear park that would run roughly along the railway?
A: Only if cyclists pay for it.
Q: Do you support the provision of a cycle bridge over the River Cam and related cycleways alongside or near the railway bridge?
A: Again, only if you don t expect everybody else to pay for it.
Q: What would you do to ensure the developer fixes these cycling signs before the County Council adopts this, to avoid taxpayers paying to deal with these problems in future years?
Q: Do you support our view that legal cycling should remain permitted, that the signs should read Cyclists give way to pedestrians and that conflict would be reduced by removing barriers to increase the amount of space here?
A: I don t use Green Dragon bridge, so am not able to make an informed comment. However, I am constantly subjected to verbal abuse from cyclist riding of the footbridge at Jesus Lock when I ask them to stop ignoring the please dismount signs.
Q: Do you have any other general cycling-related comments or points?
A: Why are there cycle tracks on Hill s road on both the road and footpath?
Road space is required for motorised vehicles who pay for it.
It shouldn t be wasted on people who don t.
Just for your information, I walk to most places in Cambridge, but you should bear in mind that if everybody cycled, there would be no roads to ride on.
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