Giro d’Italia – Stage 18 – Guardini Surprises Cavendish

Flash back to 2008. Daniele Bennati is wearing the points jersey, and would go on to win the jersey in Milan. On Stage 13, a relatively unknown 23-year-old named Mark Cavendish blasted past Bennati like a rocket in the first Grand Tour of Cav’s illustrious career. Young, fast and brash and Mark Cavendish was on the scene.

Now, back to the current reality. A 22 year old Andrea Guardini, whose 23rd birthday is in a couple of weeks, just blasted past points jersey wearing Mark Cavendish like a rocket in his first Grand Tour of his young career. We’ve been watching Guardini closely since his five stage wins at the Tour de Langkawi last year. This year, he got 6, but his very poor climbing has always made him a question mark for the Giro. Well, he just won the 18th stage and had to get over the Passo Giau to do it. And he won with ease. I think we’ll see more of this kid in the future.

Maglia Rossa – The points jersey. This second place finish for Mark Cavendish puts the win of the Maglia Rossa in even greater jeopardy. The 5 points Cav missed out on for the points jersey lead may be the difference between winning it and losing it. The current standings after this final sprint stage are as follows:

1. Mark Cavendish (Sky)_____138pts
2. Joaquim Rodriguez (KAT)__109pts (-29)
3. Ryder Hesjedal (GRM)_____73pts (-65)

The point structure for stage finishes are: 25, 20, 16, 14, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Intermediate Sprints are: 8, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Cavendish currently has a 29 point lead on J-Rod, which would have been 34 if he had won the stage as expected. Cav’s 28pts (2nd + Int.) today effectively eliminated Hesjedal from contention. It’s unlikely either Rodriguez or Cavendish will finish in the top ten in the TT and it’s unlikely that either will contend intermediate sprints. As it stands, if Rodriguez gets a 3rd and 4th place (30pts) in the final two stages or better he’ll take the Maglia Rossa. If Cav won today, J-Rod would have needed a 2nd and a 3rd (35pts), which was still very possible, but that much tougher.

Tomorrow, we have the first of the two biggest stages in the Giro. Finishing on the 8km Alpe di Pampeago after crossing 3 previous passes. Stage 19 is going to be the second to last opportunity for Scarponi and Basso to take time out of Hesjedal and Rodriguez. As well, J-Rod will be looking to make time on Ryder also, as he knows that he needs about 1 minute more to protect the Maglia Rosa in the final TT in Milano. Watch for Scarponi to try and be the biggest aggressor tomorrow if he can be, and an alignment between the two Italians against Hesjedal and Rodriguez.

Stage 18 Top Five
1. Andrea Guardini (FAR)_______3h00’52”
2. Mark Cavendish (SKY)
3. Roberto Ferrari (AND)
4. Robert Hunter (GRM)
5. Lucas Haedo (SAX)

Complete Stage 18 results: Gazzetta Official

General Classification after 18 stages
1. Joaquim Rodriguez (KAT)____77h47’38”
2. Ryder Hesjedal (GRM)_____+30″
3. Ivan Basso (LIQ)___________+1’22”
4. Michele Scarponi (LAM)_____+1’36”
5. Rigoberto Uran (SKY)_______+2’56”
6. Benat Intxausti (MOV)_______+3’04”
7. Domenico Pozzovivo (COG)___+3’19”
8. Paolo Tiralongo (AST)_______+4’13”
9. Thomas De Gendt (VAC)_____+4’38”
10. Sergio Luis Haeno (SKY)____+4’42”
11. Johann Tschopp (BMC)______+4’46”
12. John Gadret (ALM)__________+4’46”
13. Daniel Moreno (KAT)________+4’55”
14. Dario Caltaldo (OPQ)_______+4’59”
15. Damiano Cunego (LAM)_____+5’07”
16. Mikel Nieve (EUS)__________+5’42”

20. Roman Kreuziger (AST)_____+12’53”

Complete General Classification: Gazzetta Official

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