Mark Cavendish defies trying conditions to take the maglia rosa

The maglia rosa is the Giro’s equivalent of the maillot jaune – only it’s not jaune, it’s rosa. It’s the pink jersey worn by the race leader.

Sprinters don’t usually get a chance to wear the leader’s jersey in the grand tours because the races usually kick off with a prologue (a short time trial). Today’s stage therefore represented a rare opportunity for Cavendish. He had to battle more than just his fellow sprinters as well.

“The stage wasn’t easy. There were a lot of corners and it was very hot for an Englishman like me.”

Heat and corners. He’s going to be livid when he finds out the race goes uphill as well.

As for how much uphill Cavendish will have to do, that very much depends on how well he does. Last year, he was in with a chance of winning the points classification. Having already won that competition in the Tour and the Vuelta, victory would have given him the full set and he therefore stayed in the race until the end. Unfortunately, he came second to Joaquim Rodriguez by a single point. Bit vexing, what?

The same principle applies this year. He’ll drop out midway through if there’s no chance of winning the points classification, but he’ll feel obliged to plough on if he’s still in the running.

The points jersey is the maglia rosso passione, by the way. Don’t make the mistake of looking for something vert, like in the Tour. It’s red.