Thanks for joining us on this the final stage of the 2013 Giro d'Italia.
Riese Pio X - Brescia
Giro d'Italia - 26 May 2013
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Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) will be crowned the winner of the 2013 Giro d'Italia. Sky's Rigoberto Uran is second with Cadel Evans (BMC) in third.
Sacha Modolo for Bardiani Valvoli was second with Elia Viviani of Cannondale in third.
A drag race between Mark Cavendish and the other sprinters in the race, but Cav takes it making it five stage wins and a red jersey for his troubles. It was a long sprint but in the end he had the strength.
Coming to last few hundred metres and Cannondale have the lead.
Under the red kite and Cav is sitting in third as Cannondale come through and take the lead.
Cannondale will be looking to deliver Viviani to the line but do they have the strength?
Over 1km to go and Cannondale are still there in numbers behind three Omega Pharma riders.
Popovych gone again and Omega Pharma back on the front on their own. Cavendish in third.
Popoyvch (Radioshack) goes to the front but Omega Pharma fight for the second and third wheel.
Katusha are moving up for Paolini. Lampre are there too.
We are taking the bell now and Cannondale are visible behind Omega Pharma.
In fact, the Omega Pharma boys are putting three across the front of the bunch going in to corners to avoid anyone jumping them.
We're coming up to the bell now and Cavendish looks totally comfortable and there is plenty of chopping and changing around him, but nobody making an impression just yet.
The pace is being kept really high and Cavendish still has a full complement in front of him.
Any team that tries to challenge Omega Pharma at the front are repeatedly closed down and they are not giving anyone an inch.
Two laps to go now as we cross the finish line again.
Through the tighter corners Omega Pharma have taken back control on the front. Cavendish sits in about fifth wheel.
As the roads widens a bit Cannondale are now massing beside Omega Pharma, who continue to fight to hold the front.
We've just crossed the finish line with three laps of Brescia remaining. The peloton isn't exactly lined out, but they are definitely happy to allow Cavendish and his team do the work. Cannondal are sitting in their wheel and also AG2R are lurking near the front.
The legs will be actually screaming as they have to break down to nothing coming into the turns and then get out of the saddle and push on again out of the bends. This won't be easy for anyone. We can be thankful that it's not wet.
The twists and turns and tight nature of this finishing circuit means that it is practically impossible for anyone to get out in front of Omega Pharma. They continue to drive on the front.
Cavendish wins the sprint and is now five points ahead of Nibali in the red jersey competition and it looks unlikely that he will lose that.
With Omega back in control, Cavendish jumps out to secure enough points to take the red jersey.
Ermeti is closed down by Omega Pharma again and we're all back together.
Ermeti continues on at the front but only has a handful of seconds.
The attacks have begun and Mark Cavendish jumps on to the Giairo Ermeti (Androni Giocattoli) and as they cross the finish line for the second time, Cavendish eases up. I didn't think the Intermediate Sprint was until the next lap, but there seems to be some confusion.
Over the course of this finishing loop, there are no less than nine 90 degree turns, so that will keep things a bit stop start, and should anyone get away from the bunch it will give them a better chance of staying away for a bit longer.
So with the formalities out of the way, the speed immediately picks up and Omega Pharma Quick Step reappear at the front.
Stefano Garzelli (Vini Fantini) is allowed to ride in front of the bunch and take the plaudits of the crowd as he rides his final Giro d'Italia.
We are now in Brescia and the bunch is led by Tiralongo of Astana.
The peloton has slowed right down now as we enter the outskirts of Brescia. They are preparing for the procession over the finish line for the first time. There's even a little bit of climbing as we come around the Castle of Brescia. That won't be very welcome for the non-climbers who will still be smarting from yesterday.
Danny Pate (Sky) is back in the cars picking up bottles for his team mates. He looks like he may be going for a record such is the number of bottles down the back of his jersey.
We're within the last hour of racing now and getting close to Brescia The sun is still trying to shine and the pace is still being set by Astana.
Luca Paolini (Katusha) makes his way back through the cars. He has deep section rims on and also a vent-less helmet. Maybe he has some ambitions for today.
We're just under 20km from Brescia and the sun is sort of out. The bunch is still being led by Astana, but it is still just rolling along.
Thankfully today has been crash free. The 4.2km loop of Brescia is very technical and has a lot of tight turns. We'll have to wait and see how the peloton gets around on the first lap, but it may be dangerous if they are going at full pelt.
Seems to be some form of informal agreement that the jersey wearers will be allowed to cross the finish line in front of the peloton before we begin the seven laps of Brescia in earnest. These guys deserve the adulation. They've worked hard for it.
With Cadel Evans finishing on the podium today he becomes only the fourth ever rider to podium on all three Grand Tours and also win the World Championships. A huge achievement for Cuddles. He fought hard for it in this Giro and deserves to have his name added to the history books.
Nibali has sent his Astana team to the front to close down this attack. He's not impressed that two other riders would steal his thunder and there is a line of baby blue at the front of the bunch.
Two Vacansoleil riders jump off the front. Maurits Lammertink and Rob Ruijgh are trying to get a gap, but the bunch are alive to it and straight away the group lines out in to try and reel them back in.
Cavendish collected 8 points there and now just needs three more points to secure the red jersey. He was followed over at that ast sprint by Giovanni Visconti (Movistar).
Omega Pharma lead out prefectly for Mark Cavendish who goes from a long way back to take the sprint from a group of chasers, but he picked up those points easily enough.
The pace has picked up slightly with Cavendish's men on the front putting some of the riders dow the back under a little bit of pressure. The sprint comes in just over 5km.
We are coming up to the first Intermediate Sprint at Sirmione.
Omega Pharma are tottally controlling things at the front. They are practically lined out across the front of the bunch.
Cadel Evans (BMC) being brought back to the rear of the bunch. Not even breaking a sweat through the cars.
The bunch is all back together again and the pace is so sedate that Stefano Garzelli (Vini Fantini) who is riding his last ever Giro stage, is giving an interview to a journalist who is on the back of a motorbike. Garzelli won seven stages during his time on the race and also took the overall title in 2000.
The speed has risen slightly as Columbia, among other teams, have started to come to the fore,
Hansen has spent a huge amount of time in breaks over the course of this Giro and also picked up a stage win on Stage 7. A true tough man of the sport, he just doesn't seem to know when to quit.
Dirk Bellemakers and Adam Hansen (both Lotto Belisol) have jumped off the front of the bunch. Hansen a true glutton for punishment.
The average speed after the third hour of racing is now 35.7km/h.
Apologies for the lack of graphic at the top of this feed. Technical issues mean we are unable to bring it to you. However, stick with us here and we will lead you in to the finish line of the final stage of Giro d'Italia 2013.
We have dipped under the 100km to go mark and the group is still together. Tradition suggests that the bunch will stay together until Nibali and his Astana team lead the bunch around the opening lap of the circuit in Brescia. It is unlikely that tradition will be broken today, save for a couple of kilometres while the sprints are decided.
Cummings has been wound back in and it's as you were with Omega Pharma on the front.
Of the 207 starters who rolled off the line three weeks ago, we now have only 168 left. A lot of the crashes and withdrawals will be put down to the weather so it's nice at least to see the finish will be dry.
It won't be long now until we reach the first Intermediate Sprint point. Omega Pharma Quick Step are still in a good position to bring Cav to the fore. Time will tell.
The riders are entering the feed zone. There is still no urgency. Steve Cummings (BMC) has made an attack, no major advantage yet.
The average speed after two hours of racing is 34.3km/h. Still a relaxing Sunday spin for these guys.
Elia Viviani (Cannondale) is still looking for a stage victory in this year's Giro and as he still has eight riders around him, he will feel confident that today is the day for him. Mark Cavendish's main lead out man, Gert Steegmans is gone home and so Viviani will be hoping to exploit this by taking control on the front over the final kilometres. Cavendish said before this race that he would get five stages and it looks like only Viviani stands in his way.
The weather in Brescia is not typical summer conditions, but it is in the high teens with little or no chance of rain. The peloton will be warm and dry and to them that will be a huge bonus. This Giro has been very tough on the riders with very few totally dry days and even less time in the sun.
We've just heard the Mark Cavendish suffered a puncture at around 50km. It won't have bothered him too much as the pace is still easy and he is back in without too much extra effort expended.
Today our feed zone comes at Bosco di Sona between 111km and 114km. Yesterday our four breakaway riders used the feed zone to gain some time on the bunch. The quartet stayed away for most of the day and Pavel Brutt (Katusha) even crested the first climb of the day ahead of the chasing bunch. Today it is more likely that we will see riders taking their time and using it as an opportunity to draw breath before the intermediate sprints.
We're passing through the 50km mark, and Omega Pharma Quick Step continue on the front. They are not driving the pace by any means but remain in control.
The first hour of racing was completed with an average speed of 33.5km/h. Things are obviously fairly leisurely after a brisk start. There will be plenty of chatting going on with, no doubt, horror stories about who had the most snow on their helmet, frost on their handlebars, etc, at the end of yesterday's stage. Each and every one of these riders has suffered to be here today and it is only right that they get to enjoy today.
The intermediate sprints offer 8, 6, 4, 3, 2 and 1 point today while at the finish there is 25, 20, 16, 14, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1. Put simply, this means that if Mark Cavendish wants to pull back the 11 point advantage taken by Nibali yesterday, he has plenty of opportunities. He will want to win the stage, but even without that, there are more than enough points available for him to win the jersey and complete his goal of points jersies from all three Grand Tours.
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) will hold the Maglia Rosa into Brescia today and after his performance on the Tre Cime di Lavaredo he now holds a lead of 4' 43" over his nearest rival, Sky's Rigoberto Uran. The big loser yesterday as Cadel Evans (BMC) who was overtaken by Uran and now lies in third place at 5' 52" down. These positions will not change today and this is the podium we will see at the finish.
As the stage today is so flat there will plenty of the faster riders looking to stretch their legs. At present the peloton is moving along at 44km/h and if a break doesn't go away, expect the pace to be fast as Omega Pharma look to control things for Cavendish. The first sprint doesn't come until Sirmione with 125km completed.
We have to apologise for the lack of live graphics at the top of this feed due to a technical issue. We will do our best to bring it to you, but in the meantime, we will keep you right up to date as things unfold in this final stage.
Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole CSF Inox) will definitely take home the King of the Mountains jersey. He secured this some time ago and as there no categorised climbs today he cannot be caught by either Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) or Vincenzo Nibali who both lie well down on that classification. Pirazzi has been value for money and though it was never certain if he would make his attacks stick or not, he did enough to take the lead and hold on to the jersey to the end.
Today marks the first time since 2007 that the Giro has not ended in an Individual Time Trial on the final day. After the pain and suffering of yesterday I think the riders will be glad that they didn't have to face into a Time Trial today.
The pace out on the road is brisk from the off with Omega Pharma Quick Step on the front. They are not in celebratory mood just yet and have only one thing on their minds.
Aside from the battle for the overall lead, Stage 20 also saw the white jersey change hands. At the start of the day, Rafal Majka (Saxo Tinkoff) lead the classification by 2 seconds from Carlos Betancur (AG2R). The Columbian suffered with mechanical issues at vital points in the stage, but still managed to haul himself to the top in fourth position and more importantly, 39 seconds ahead of Majka. As today's stage is pan flat, this jersey will be going home with Betancur today.
Once the riders hit Brescia today they will complete seven laps of a 4.2km loop. This will give the lead out trains plenty of time to get familiar with the bends in the road in advance of the final sprint. This is the first time the Giro has finished in Brescia as the race organisers moved away from Milan, the regular finishing point of the three week Grand Tour.
Stage 21 is pan flat and as is the general rule in Grand Tours, there will be no battle for GC positions. However, with two intermediate sprints and a sprint finish likely, the red points jersey is still up for grabs. Mark Cavendish lost the jersey to Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) yesterday, but his Omega Pharma Quick Step outfit will do everything they can to see the Manx Missile in a position to retake the jersey.
As the 168 remaining riders prepare for the roll out they will be glad to be a bit of sunshine and some generally okay weather. Following yesterday's blizzard finish there will be some tired bodies out there who will be looking forward to a few days off.
Good morning and welcome to our LIVE updates from Stage 21 of the Giro d'Italia 2013. The final stage will bring riders the 197km from Riese Pio X to Brescia.