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In a crash-marred finale, Modolo finished off a perfect lead-out by holding off Nizzolo to take his first grand tour victory; Contador and Aru both crashed in the finale and Contador’s time loss saw Aru take the maglia rosa

Photo: Tour of Turkey/Brian Hodes












22.05.2015 @ 18:02 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After a number of near-misses, Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) finally opened his grand tour account when he finished off an excellent lead-out to win the completely flat stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia. Coming off Maximilano Richeze’s wheel, he narrowly held off Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) in a crash-marred finale that saw both Richie Porte (Sky) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) go down with 3.2km to go. As the crash happened outside the 3km mark, they both lost time and so Fabio Aru (Astana) takes over the maglia rosa.


Sacha Modolo has long been described as one of the greatest Italian sprinting talents but he has never had much luck in the grand tours. Going into this year’s edition of the Giro d’Italia, his best result was his second place behind Mark Cavendish in the final stage of the 2013 race and he was determined to finally set things straight in 2015.


In the first sprint stages, Modolo has failed to take the win but he has had reason to be extremely confident. The lead-out train of Roberto Ferrari and Maximilano Richeze has completely dominated the sprint finishes and always delivered their sprinter in the perfect position. In stage 10, he was narrowly edged out in the sprint of the peloton but that day it was only good enough for sixth as the early break had stayed away.


Today he had his final chance to take some success before the race enters the high mountains and the completely flat stage 13 seemed to give his best opportunity yet. With a technical finale and wet roads, he was expected to benefit from his great bike-handling skills and that prediction turned out to be true as he finally managed to take that elusive grand tour stage win.


After a concerted effort by the sprint teams, the early break was caught already with 17.5km to go and it was now Tinkoff-Saxo riding on the front to keep Alberto Contador safe on the wet roads. Christopher Juul took some huge turns while everyone was fighting hard to stay in a good position.


With 14km to go, Juul finished his work and veteran Matteo Tosatto took over. He took a huge turn before leaving it to Ivan Basso and Ivan Rovny to do the work while Sky moved up alongside the yellow train, with Vasil Kiryienka setting the pace.


Passing the 10km to go banner, Tinkoff-Saxo had won the battle and it was Tosatto who took a huge turn to lead the peloton onto the coastal road. Manuele Boaro took a short turn before Trek started the lead-out by taking over the pace-setting with 6km to go.


Eugenio Alafaci and Marco Coledan traded pulls for a few kilometres but they had burnt their matcches too early. With 4km to go, the two Italians swung off and it was now lead-out man Boy van Poppel riding on the front with sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo on his wheel.


With 3.2km to go, a big drama occurred when Alafaci and a Cannondale rider went down and caused a big crash. Richie Porte and Alberto Contador both went down and while the latter was quickly back on his bike, the former was standing in the roadside for a long time before he finally got going again.


From there, it was a furious chase with riders all over the road while the sprint battle was still going on. Bert De Backer took a short turn for Giant-Alpecin before Lars Bak took over for Lotto Soudal.


With 2km to go, Lampre-Merida kicked into action when Ferrari, Richeze and Modolo lined themselves out on the front and from there, the rival sprinters could do nothing but to fight for Modolo’s whee. An impressive Ferrari took a turn of more than a kilometre to lead the peloton under the flamme rouge and through the final turn with 500m to go before he finally swung off.


Richeze did the perfect lead-out before Modolo started his sprint from a great position. Nizzolo had won the battle for his wheel and tried to come around but he ran out of metres and had to settle for second. Viviani could now even try to pass them and rolled across the line in third to take the red jersey back.


Meanwhile, Contador and Porte were fighting hard and while the Spaniard only lost 40 seconds to the stage winner, the race ended as a disaster for Porte who lost more than 2 minutes. Fabio Aru had survived the carnage and that was enough for him to take the overall lead with a 19-second advantage over Contador who drops to second.


However, Aru is unlikely to get more than one day in pink as tomorrow is the day of the crucial time trial. The 59.4km test from Treviso in Valdobbiadene can be split into two parts, with the first one being completely flat and the second half being hilly. The stage is expected to open the first bigger time gaps in what has until now been a very close race.


A flat stage

After two days of climbing, the sprinters were expected to have one final chance before the riders headed into a weekend of big GC battles. The 147km stage 13 brought the riders from Montecchio Maggiore to Jesolo and was a completely flat affair that had no elevation gains at all. With the final 10km taking place along the Adriatic coast, the only danger was expected to be come from the windy conditions.


As forecasted, the riders had very wet conditions when they gathered in Montecchio Maggiore for the start of the flattest stage of the race. There was one notable absentee as Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) who crashed yesterday decided to head home to prepare for the Tour de France.


Lotto Soudal chase hard

The stage got off to a slightly more animated start than it is usually the case in these flat sprint stages. After 4km of attacking, the first promising move was formed when Marco Frapporti (Androni), Arnaud Courteille (FDJ), Jerome Pineau (IAM) and Bert De Backer (Giant-Alpecin) took off. Rick Zabel (BMC) managed to bridge the gap and the quintet had an advantage of 15 seconds at the 5km mark.


Lotto Soudal were not pleased with that break – probably because it included a rider from Giant-Alpecin who would be an ally in setting up a bunch sprint. They started to chase hard and at the 8km mark, they had brought Frapporti, Courteille, De Backer and Zabel back.


The break is formed

Pineau continued on his own and Frapporti and Zabel were also not ready to give up. They managed to rejoin Pineau while Mauro Finetto (Southeast) and Riccardo Stacchiotti (Nippo) took off in pursuit.


The Italian duo had to work hard to make it across as the peloton was not ready to slow down yet. Lotto Soudal were chasing hard and as they passed the 15km mark, the front trio only had advantages of 12 and 20 seconds respectively.


The peloton slows down

Stacchiotti and Finetto never made the junction and they were brought back after 16km of fast racing. This was the signal for the peloton to slow down and at the 18km mark, the gap had gone out to 40 seconds.


The gap went out to 2.30 before the sprint teams came to the fore. Sander Armee, Louis Vervaeke (Lotto Soudal), Calvin Watson, Fabio Silvestre (Trek) and Cheng Ji (Giant-Alpecin) formed a strong alliance and they even got some assistance from Sergio Paulinho (Tinkoff-Saxo). With 105km to go, they had brought th gap down to 1.55 and everything seemed to be under control.


A closed railroad crossing

Things were only made easier when a railroad crossing forced the escapees to stop. The peloton was also held back and were set to be restarted with the same 2-minute deficit. However, they were allowed to start riding again just 1 minute later than the front trio.


With 88km to go, the gap had gone out to 1.20 and the front trio were now contesting the first intermediate sprint. Zabel briefly tried to challenge Frapporti but he didn’t go full gas and the Italian took a narrow win. Further back, Bardiani tried to do a lead-out for points leader Nicola Boem but it was Bernhard Eisel who hit the front for Sky. Nicola Ruffoni took over for Bardiani but their plan failed as Nizzolo was first across the line followed by Eduard Grosu (Nippo), Viviani, Boem and Philippe Gilbert (BMC).


Another sprint battle

Silvestre, Watson, Ji, Armee, Vervaeke and Paulinho went back to work and kept the gap around 1.15. Ji took a small break but was replaced by Gang Xu who started to work for Lampre-Merida. Later Ji came back to the front.


Zabel narrowly held Frapporti off in the second intermediate sprint while the battle in the peloton was more disorganized in the first one. This allowed Boem to narrowly hold Nizzolo off while Viviani and Gilbert were next.


A small gap

Vervaeke had now stopped his work and with 60km to go, Xu also ended his day. The gap constantly dangled around the 1-minute mark while Vervaeke took over from Armee and Watson took a small break.


With 45km to go, the gap was only 45 seconds and now the fight for position had really started in the peloton. This made it difficult for the escapees but they dug to extend their advantage to 58 seconds with 30km to go.


Tinkoff-Saxo take control

Vervaeke ended his day but Watson, Silvestre, Ji, Pauilnho and Armee were still working strongly. Meanwhile, Andrey Amador (Movistar) fought his way back from an untimely puncture.


With 21km to go, the gap was only 25 seconds and now Tinkoff-Saxo took complete control. Paulinho took one final turn before Juul took over. Moments later, he brought the escapees back and from there the dramatic finale unfolded.



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