On this pancake-flat thirteenth stage, the Giro peloton is hurtling full speed ahead to Jesolo. Across the Venetian plain from Montecchio Maggiore, via Vicenza, Piazzola sul Brenta, Mirano, Mestre, Musile di Piave, and to Eraclea, the remaining 183 riders arrive en masse into the final 20 kilometres of the 147km stage, one of the shortest legs of the race, and the day before the all-important, and quite possibly race-defining, time trial from Treviso to Valdobbiadene through the vineyards of Prosecco.
"The commissaires, admiring an act of sportsmanship in the heat of the moment, turn a blind eye as the maglia rosa is soon on his way to the peloton..."
The GC contenders, namely Alberto Contador, Fabio Aru, Richie Porte and Rigoberto Uran, are doing what they can to save their legs before Saturday's 59 kilometre time test. But in the inclement conditions experienced today and on yesterday's stage to Vicenza, they and their teams are figuring it's better to expend a little extra to be at the front than be caught behind in a crash - something Contador knows about all too well, the victim of a finishing straight pile-up on Stage 6, where he dislocated his shoulder. Aru, after suffering hunger knock Thursday and conceding an additional eight seconds to the maglia rosa, has made doubly sure he's taken on enough sustenance despite a relatively short race time, expected to be around three hours in the saddle.
Heading into the urbanised areas surrounding Jesolo and led by the teams of the sprinters, the peloton, aside from the rain-slicked roads, is confronted with the usual obstacles: roundabouts, speed bumps and traffic islands. Unsurprisingly, a crash occurs just before the three-kilometres-to-go banner; notably, the point a rider is awarded bunch time should one fall foul of Lady Luck.
Both the maglia rosa and Porte find themselves caught in the melee. The Spaniard's front wheel is irreparably damaged and needs a replacement quick sticks, but his team-mates are up ahead and have little idea their leader is losing time by the second; meanwhile, the Tasmanian has strength in numbers and is soon brought back to the tail end of the bunch, led by Trek Factory Racing for their sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo.
Italian Paolo Tiralongo, once a team-mate of Contador's when he rode for Astana and who Bertie gifted a stage win to at the 2011 Giro, is right beside his former leader. Despite now riding for Aru, the pair are still good friends, and he hasn't forgotten the person who essentially gave him his first professional stage victory after 12 years of toil. Just like he did on Stage 17 of the 2012 Vuelta that effectively won Contador the race, Tiralongo chooses to come to his aid, and hands over his wheel.
The commissaires, admiring an act of sportsmanship in the heat of the moment, turn a blind eye as the maglia rosa is soon on his way to the peloton; instead of potentially losing two to three minutes and a further two-minute penalty for breaching the rules, he finishes on the same time as stage winner Sacha Modolo of Lampre-Merida.
Contador, despite a noble fight from Aru and Porte, both who have the Spaniard's measure in the mountainous third week, goes on to win his second Giro by 1'46 and 2'35 from the aforementioned pair.
Of course, Tiralongo did nothing of the sort on Friday and both Contador and Porte lost out; the former conceding the maglia rosa to Aru, the latter losing two minutes more and seemingly out of podium, let alone race-winning, contention.
But what if it did happen, and the incident that befelled Porte on Stage 11 to Imola where he was docked two minutes did not?
Would you be complimenting the commissaires' concession to "mateship", as so many of you asked them to do after Wednesday's stage?