2012 Giro d’Italia: The Unleashing of Cavendish

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With Mark Cavendish taking his first win of the Giro, it’s time to ask: How many stages will he win?

After Taylor Phinney took pink in the prologue over Geraint Thomas, the race hit the road in Denmark on a flat stage tailor made for the fast men of the race. Mark Cavendish is in Italy armed with an entire team in support of his sprinting abilities. Thomas, Jeremy Hunt, Bernie Eisel and more will be at Cav’s disposal for the next three weeks, and there’s no reason to doubt he’ll stack up victories, but just how many is up for discussion.

Today’s sprint was marred by a massive crash in the final meters, but the favorites were safe off the front when the bikes hit the asphalt. Flashing the rainbow jersey, Cavendish outkicked everyone still upright for the win. He showed his familiar top gear even without the perfect leadout, and he seems to be getting better at winning stages on his own.

Tyler Farrar went too early, as did Thor Hushovd. Cav waited as long as possible and timed his sprint to perfection. He’s got the fastest kick out there, and if he can ride safely for the next three weeks, there are plenty of opportunities for wins. With six pancake flat finishes this year, the Giro seems to suit a Team Sky geared up for the sprint. They brought no serious GC threats, though will allow Rigoberto Uran and Sergio Henao to ride for the GC and scalp stages whenever possible. With so much support, it’s hard to imagine a healthy Cavendish winning less than four stages, and possibly even more than six if he can survive the hillier medium mountain stages with ascents far out from the line.

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