A nail-biting finish to the short but eventful 150km Stage 13 from Sanremo to Cuneo saw a four-man break agonisingly swept up in the final kilometre as Frenchman Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) showed his class and confidence with a third win in this Giro d’Italia.
Frenchman Nicolas Prodhomme (Ag2R-Citroen), Dutchmen Julius van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost) and Pascal Eenkhoorn (Jumbo-Visma), and the Italian Mirco Maestri (Eolo-Kometa) held a maximum lead of over six minutes after the day’s only categorised climb, the Colle di Nava, before the teams of the sprinters combined to crush their dreams after an enthralling game of cat-and-mouse for the last two hours of racing.
With only 20km remaining and the gap still well over two minutes, the odds looked stacked in favour of the escapees. But once Mark Cavendish’s Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team and the Israel-Premier Tech outfit of Italy’s Giacomo Nizzolo joined forces with Groupama-FDJ, the advantage was whittled down as the collective shoulders of the leading quartet started to slump.
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Fresh impetus came from the DSM team of Stage 11 winner Alberto Dainese, whose leader and GC prospect Romain Bardet earlier abandoned after suffering a prolonged bout of sickness since Thursday’s stage to Genova. Bardet was in fourth, just 14 seconds off pink jersey Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo) prior to Friday's stage.
It was touch-and-go right to the finish with the quartet still holding 25 seconds over the pack with two kilometres remaining. But a slight 2% rise to the home straight sounded the death-knell for the leaders – and despite a spirited last-ditch effort from Maestri to become the third Italian on the bounce to stand atop the Giro podium, order was restored as Jacopo Guarnieri and Ramon Sinkeldam roared to the front before launching their man Demare towards the line.
Colombia’s Fernando Gaviria latched onto Demare’s wheel as his UAE Team Emirates pilot Max Richeze pulled off and impeded the final kick of Cavendish. The British Stage 3 winner managed to swing past the Argentine veteran but could only take third place after Germany’s Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious) powered by the barriers to finish second.
On the eve of two tough days in the mountains, Spain’s Lopez retains his 12-second lead over Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and Portugal’s Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates). Australia’s Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) rises to fourth place (+0:20) following Bardet’s shock withdrawal, which leaves Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) the last remaining French hope in the general classification in fifth place at 28 seconds.
Playing out under bright sunshine and in temperatures in the high-20s, Friday’s short stage was animated from the outset with a series of attacks on the Ligurian coast as the peloton passed the base of the famous Poggio climb and traced the route of the Milan-Sanremo classic but in reverse.
Dutchman Van den Berg was the instigator of an early failed move before pulling the strings in a second move which stuck as he went clear with Eenkhoorn, Maestri, Prodhomme and the Italian Filippo Tagliani (Drone Hopper-Androni Giacattoli).
The advantage of the breakaway crept over the three-minute mark as they embarked on an uncategorised climb ahead of the Colle di Nava as the news filtered through of Bardet’s unfortunate withdrawal.

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After winning the intermediate sprint ahead of the Cat.3 climb, Tagliani was tailed off on the Colle di Nava, the summit of which the leaders crested with over six minutes in the bank.
Payday was far from guaranteed, however, and the chase began in earnest on the descent as the teams of the sprinters flocked to the front en masse. With the advantage of the breakaway still over five minutes with 65km remaining, Eurosport and GCN pundit Robbie McEwen gave the four escapees a 70% chance of survival.
A large split in the pack occurred inside the final 30km when the high pace saw numerous riders – including Briton Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Australia’s Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers) – tailed off.

Pascal Eenkhoorn of Netherlands and Team Jumbo - Visma and Julius Van Den Berg of Netherlands and Team EF Education - Easypost compete in the breakaway during the 105th Giro d'Italia 2022

Image credit: Getty Images

With the situation getting increasingly desperate, many of the sprinters’ teams even started to commit their lead-out men to the chase – most notably Israel-Premier Tech, who sent Germany’s Rick Zabel forward to pull.
If the tactic backfired for Israel-Premier Tech – their fast-man Nizzolo could only finish eighth in Cuneo – then it at least helped ensure that there was a sprint at all in the first place. Although the breakaway put up a spirited fight and came within 800 metres of contesting an unlikely win.
But in the end the cream came to the top as the in-form Demare proved that he was the fastest man of this race with a textbook third win to gift him a near unassailable lead in the maglia ciclamino standings.

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“The golden rule is one minute per 10 kilometres but [the chase] was all the way from the climb, false flat, then down, with the wind coming from the back, so it was an advantage for the breakaway,” Demare’s Dutch teammate Sinkeldam said afterwards. “So, it was really close and we had to really fight – and not only us, all the teams, we worked together, it was perfect.
“The last kilometre they were playing poker in front – but we won again, it was really nice. It’s not often that you win stages in Grand Tours. There was a lot of pressure on us to win in this Giro and we have delivered.”
On Saturday the focus shifts to the battle for pink with an intriguing 147km Stage 14 from Santena to Torino that incudes two laps of a lumpy finishing circuit and dual ascents of the challenging Superga and Colle delle Madalena climbs. With his rivals lurking – and another summit finish on the menu on Sunday – Lopez will face his stiffest task as he bids to keep hold of the maglia rosa going into the final week.
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