Mark Cavendish of Omega Pharma Quick Step donned the maglia rosa for the third time in his illustrious career with a messy sprint victory in the opening stage of the 2013 Giro d'Italia, in Napoli. Cavendish avoided a crash which split the field with 2km to go, leaving a front group of a dozen riders including Matt Goss and his Orica-GreenEdge helpers, plus most of his closest competitors, and none of the Manxman's teammates. This almost proved fatal to his ambitions when Cavendish let a gap go, but he quickly closed it, then came around Goss's leadout and the reaction from Cannondale's Elia Viviani to barely take the stage from the Italian. FDJ's Nacer Bouhanni also pipped Goss, taking third on the day, following a head-bumping match with BMC's Adam Blythe.
The win puts Cavendish in pink, which is always nice, but it also gave him 28 points to kick off his campaign for the maglia rosso passione, the points jersey, which he will likely be wearing after tomorrow (when the team time trial removes the pink one from his back). Viviani slots in at 20 points, a credible start for him too, but he must be rueing what might have been on a day when Cavendish was left out of ideal positioning and with no help.
Tomorrow the race goes offshore for a short team time trial, where BMC, Garmin and Sky will form an Anglo Armada on the top of the scoresheet. But team time trials can be tricky, and a veteran squad like Astana, Katusha or Movistar could find itself in contention for glory as well. The Giro seems designed to pass the pink jersey around the first week, with hilly finishes Monday and Tuesday before the sprinting resumes. Results:
- Mark Cavendish, Omega Pharma-Quick Step
- Elia Viviani, Liquigas, s.t.
- Nacer Bouhanni, FDJ, s.t.
- Danilo Hondo, Radioshack-Leopard, s.t.
- Marco Marcato, Vacansoleil, s.t.
- Giacomo Nizzolo, Radioshack-Leopard, s.t.
- Matt Goss, Orica-GreenEdge, s.t.
- Francisco Ventoso, Movistar, s.t.
- Adam Blythe, BMC, s.t.
- Leigh Howard, Orica-GreenEdge
- Viviani, at 0.08 (on time bonuses)
- Bouhanni, at 0.12
- Hondo, at 0.16
- Marcato, at 0.18
- Nizzolo, at 0.20
- Goss, s.t.
- Ventoso, s.t.
- Blythe, s.t.
- Howard, s.t.
- Cavendish, 28 points
- Viviani, 20
- Bouhanni, 16
- Nizzolo, 14
- Hondo, 13
- Bouhanni, at 0.04