at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Italy - Italy's Marco Canola prevailed in a sprint finish to the Giro d'Italia 13th stage on Friday, with Colombian Rigoberto Uran retaining the overall leader's pink jersey.
Canola, with the Bardiani team, celebrated his biggest success by fending off Venezuela's Jackson Rodriguez and French rider Angelo Tulik in a dash to the line at the end of the 157km run from Fossano to Rivarolo.
“I hope this is the first of many,” said the rider from Venice.
“I wasn't feeling in great shape today, I was feeling tired, and I finished tired...but I wanted to win.
“I know the roads and I knew the breakaway could make it to the end. Perseverance paid off.”
Canola, Rodriguez and Tulik were part of an early six-man breakaway, with an 11 second gap back to the peloton headed by another Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni, holder of the red points jersey, with Uran safely in their midst.
Uran reflected: “Each day, anything can happen.”
Australian Cadel Evans, who is placed second overall, 37sec off Uran, said: “The start of the stage was easy, but the finish intense, because you had to pay attention due to the weather and the final circuit.”
The peloton had to battle a hail storm, making life difficult for the riders.
With 10km to go the three who fought out the finish had a near one and a half minute cushion on the chasing pack, with Canola best negotiating the final bend to emerge triumphant for the best win of his career.
The 25-year-old turned professional in 2012, the Venetian competing in his second Giro.
On Saturday the 2014 Tour of Italy enters the mountains, ending up in Oropa where the late Italian climber Marco Pantani, who died in 2004, produced a memorable performance after being held up with a chain problem on his way to victory in the 1999 edition.
The 164km run begins in Aglie with the notorious 11.8 climb to the finish in Oropa.
“We are entering a new Giro, with the mountains and the tiredness which comes with them,” reflected Evans. - Sapa-AFP