Marco Canola led the last three of a six-rider breakaway across the finish line barely 100 meters ahead of the charging peloton to secure the win in Stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia.
Canola rides for the smaller Continental team Bardiani-CSF; the team, being Italian, was invited to the Giro as a courtesy. The 25-year-old won his first Grand Tour stage as well as earning glory for his team, beating out the more powerful WorldTour squads.
Canola was part of the breakaway right from the start, more hoping to show the team colors than hoping for a stage win—the route was short at 157 km and mostly flat, with only a single Cat 4 climb.
The day was considered by most to be one for the sprinters, in fact the last real sprint stage until the final week of the Giro. Instead, a combination of rapidly changing weather and confusion in the peloton gave the breakaway a chance.
“It’s a big surprise and a great experience It’s my first victory at this level,” Canola told Eurosport.
“It’s been a crazy day from the sporting point of view—we set with our break, we managed to keep separate from the pack, and we got this beautiful result.”
The day started sunny; then rain moved in, then went away again. The race then passed through a hailstorm, which caused race officials to briefly neutralize the race—this might have helped the breakaway riders gain the few seconds’ edge they needed.
There was more rain after the hail, then more sun, then more rain; the roads were slick and the air was cold. There was even a brief period of high wind.
French team FDJ led the chase through most fo the race, riding for their sprinter Nacer Bouhanni, who was seeking his fourth stage win. None of the other sprinters’ teams would help, wanting to wear down the FDJ leadout as much as possible.
Finally Trek, rising for Giacomno Nizzollo, and Garmin-Sharp, riding for Tyler Farrar, came up to help with the chase; Sky also joined in towards the end.
It was too little, too late. The stage was short enough that the breakaway riders could push the whole way, particularly since the stage followed a time trial and a rest day. It was close; FDJ pulled the peloton to within about 100 meters at the finish, but Nacer Bouhanni had to be satisfied with sprinting for fourth.
The General Classification remained unchanged, with Omega Pharma-Quick-Step’s Rigoberto Uran maintaining his 37-asecond lead over BMC’s Cadel Evans, and 1:52 over Best Young Rider Rafal Majka of Tinkoff-Saxo.
Stage 14 takes the Giro into the mountains for the first of three days of hard climbing. The stage starts in Agliè includes four categorized climbs, the Cat 3 La Serra, the Cat 1 Alpe Noveis, the Cat 2 Bielmonte, and a summit finish in Oropa, 164 km from the start.
There should be a lot of fireworks on the final climb, as most fo the GC contenders are well behind Uran and Evans. Also Uran, a Colombian climber, might try to test Cadel Evan’s alpine abilities here—Uran might increase his gap, or at worst maintain it if he can’t shake his Aussie rival on the last climb.