MILAN (VN) — Mark Cavendish (Sky) rode like a world champion through this year’s Giro d’Italia, including his final-day time trial push to try to punch into the top 15 and earn points.
Cavendish gave everything, but could only muster 55th, well beyond the points, meaning he lost the points jersey to Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) by one point.
“I knew it wasn’t really a possibility for a top 15, but I might as well give it a try,” Cavendish said about his TT. “It’s disappointing, because we feel like we’ve done everything right for this jersey, but things were out of our control.”
Cavendish won three stages, but crashed twice in the first week, two incidents that cost him a chance to win the points jersey. On Saturday, Rodríguez crossed the line fourth atop the Passo dello Stelvio, earning just enough points to take the jersey, 139-138.
Unlike many sprinters, Cavendish stayed in the Giro all the way to Milan, in part to honor the rainbow and to chase the points jersey to go along with those he’s won in the Tour de France and Vuelta a España.
“They say what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, but I think this Giro has pretty much killed me. I am dead. I am on my hands and knees,” Cavendish said. “The Giro is the hardest grand tour in the world. The Tour is different; it’s the racing that makes it hard. Here the mountains are diabolical. It kills you.”
Cavendish also defended himself against accusations that he takes pulls off team cars up the longer climbs. Four riders were kicked out of Saturday’s stage for taking pulls, but Cavendish pushed through each day to finish in the gruppetto to arrive at the finish line.
“Contrary to popular belief, I am one of the only riders who do not take pulls or get pushed,” he said. “The commissaires do everything they can to make things harder for us. They make barrages when it’s not necessary. I am spent, but I have enjoyed it. I love this race, I love this country.”
Cavendish said he will come back to the Giro someday to win the points jersey, but admitted he was disappointed to lose it by the narrowest of margins.
“Well, that’s life on the bike,” Cavendish said. “In a way, I am happy for Rodríguez, because it was tough for him to lose the pink jersey on the last day. At least he can stand on the podium with the red jersey.”
Phinney: ‘I am glad to finish this Giro’
Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) was hoping to close out the 95th Giro differently than how he ended it, with victory in Sunday’s final time trial to go with his opening-stage victory in Denmark.
Early in his ride, however, a police motorcycle that was guiding him through the stage incorrectly steered off course. Phinney quickly realized he was going the wrong way, stopped and turned around, enough to derail his ride.
“We always have a lead moto in front of us, you’re always watching where the moto is going. A few K into the race, there was a right turn, but my lead moto just went straight through it,” Phinney told VeloNews. “That’s not something you expect to happen. Then I realized I was supposed to go right. I had to turn around and restart. At that point in time, then to have something like that just rattles you. I felt like I had an all right ride.”
Rather than contest for the stage, Phinney stopped the clocked at 1:31 slower than BMC teammate Marco Pinotti for 16th place.
“It’s pretty disappointing. This was the carrot I was chasing the whole last week. I have to be happy with finishing this Giro. I cannot estimate how much I lost,” he said. “At the end of the day, shit happens. You just have to move on. I was pretty angry at the finish.”
Phinney was especially upset because he hoped that a strong ride in Milan would help him secure the one spot the U.S. team will have for the time trial race at the London Olympic Games.
“[Dave] Zabriskie is going well and I wanted to show something today, that I deserved the spot,” he said. “I am a little bit upset how things ended today, but I am happy to get through this Giro. I know it will make me a better rider.”
Pinotti bounces back to win final TT
Marco Pinotti (BMC Racing) bounced back from a career-threatening crash in last year’s Giro to win the final stage in Milan.
With the GC riders battling in his wake, Pinotti set a blistering pace over the 28.2km course in Milan to win the final-day time trial for the second time inside four years.
“After what happened last year to me, I am most proud to come back to this level and be able to win again,” Pinotti said. “It means a lot to me because you never know when you have a bad injury like that. It was a lot of work to get back here.”
Stage winner: Marco Pinotti (BMC Racing)
Pink leader: Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) won Canada’s first grand tour, by 16 seconds over Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha). Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) knocked Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) off the final podium, finishing third.
Blue mountains: Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) won the KOM jersey
Red points: Rodríguez won the points jersey ahead of Mark Cavendish (Sky), 139-138
White youth: Rigoberto Urán (Sky) finished seventh overall and won the best young rider’s competition