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“My season is full of goals and of course I’m not happy to pull out of the Giro with the red jersey. I’m a human being, not a machine. My season is full of goals, up until October and I need to recover from this."

Photo: ANSA - PERI / DI MEO / ZENNARO

GIRO D'ITALIA

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
19.05.2016 @ 22:18 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) underlined that he is clearly the fastest rider in the Giro d’Italia as he was in a class of his own in the bunch sprint on stage 12 of the Italian race. After his team had controlled the finale completely, he easily held Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) off to make it three wins in the 2016 edition of the event. Bob Jungels (Etixx-QuickStep) finished safely to retain the lead on the eve of the mountain stages.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

André Greipel leaves the Giro after third win: I am a human, not a machine

Lotto Soudal could celebrate a fourth time in the Giro d’Italia today. André Greipel finished off another stunning team performance and so the Belgian team already obtained its fourth stage win.

 

Lotto Soudal controlled the lead behind the break. At 22 kilometres from the finish the escapees were caught as the peloton prepared itself for the expected bunch sprint. A crash took place in the final kilometres and therefore a split occurred in the peloton. Nevertheless, the whole team was able to do the perfect sprint preparation in a tricky finale. Greipel won the sprint. It’s already the sixth win for the German sprinter this season.

 

André Greipel said:

 

“The team did an amazing job today. Firstly, Pim Ligthart pulled at the front of the peloton and he managed to close the gap to the leaders. We really aimed to reel in the escapees before entering the local laps as we wanted to lead the peloton during these two laps with several difficult corners. That turned out very well.

 

”In the final kilometres, Tim Wellens and Lars Bak determined the pace. At three kilometres from the finish Adam Hansen took over and he pulled till one and a half kilometre from the end. After that Sean De Bie did his part of the job and finally Jürgen Roelandts made a great lead-out, although there was a strong headwind. We decided beforehand that Jürgen would take the final corner as first and then I would give full gas in the sprint.

 

”I think we can be very proud with this fourth stage win. For me, this Giro was very successful with three victories.

 

“It was already quite strong of the team to keep me there at the front and still be there for the leadout. It was amazing to follow the wheels of my teammates today. The plan was Jurgen Roelandts would hit the last corner first, and leave a little bit of a gap and then I could accelerate in his slipstream. It worked out really good. I wanted to do the sprint from the corner and I’m happy that it worked out like that.

 

"Our plan was to arrive with the whole team at the front of the peloton for the last lap. Chapeau to my team-mates, especially to Jurgen Roelandts for his lead-out. I left a bit of a gap behind him but I had really good legs for the final sprint.

 

"The team did an exceptional  job all day to make sprint happen. We had a plan to hit the front and stay on the front and then we had power to make the lead out too. My roommate Jurgen Roelandts let me into the final corner and I backed off a wheel a little to then accelerate from his slipstream. I was happy to hold everyone off to the line.

 

"To be honest we knew there was a cross wind coming from the left side, so I'd already decided that I'd choose the right barrier.

 

"I opened up the sprint first and went all the way to the right because I could choose my line. Caleb just chose the wrong side. I saw that there was somebody on my right side near the barrier but I was sure there was no way through. I've been a rider for a long time and so I know not to open up along the barrier in a sprint. Caleb’s time will come.

 

"I had watched the weather forecasts which were not good for the finish but ultimately it was dry in the final. I am very glad that it ended like that without the rain because it would have been really tricky hen. But in the end, we did everything the team had planned and I am very proud of the team. "

 

"I'm proud of this to reach what I reached so far with the support of team. I'm always a little bit the underdog but to win 20 Grand Tour stages is not so bad for the underdog. I’m proud of it. It’s also thanks to teamwork. Experience pays off.

 

"The media often describes me as the underdog. I often hear Kittel's and Cavendish's name but not my name…"

 

The Gorilla obtained three impressive stage wins in this Giro d’Italia and was first in the points classification. After this stage there aren’t a lot of sprint opportunities left and therefore Greipel decided together with the team to abandon the race. The German won’t start in tomorrow’s stage to take some rest before focusing on his next goals. Also Jürgen Roelandts abandons this year’s Giro tonight with his coming goals in mind.

 

Greipel said: 

 

“Together with the team I decided to abandon this year’s Giro tonight. This stage race really obtained an important place in my racing schedule since last year and it’s one of my great goals during the season. But the following nine stages will mainly be something for the GC riders.

 

”The fact that I’m wearing the red points jersey makes it a hard decision but we need to be realistic and find a good balance. The season isn’t over yet and I have the aim to perform on the highest level until October.

 

”I’m very satisfied with the three victories and I’m going home with a very good feeling. The past few weeks with this team were just amazing, we had a wonderful time. I want to thank the Giro organization for their very attractive stages and the incredible crowd for their huge encouragements. But I also want to thank my teammates and the Lotto Soudal staff for their work and support. I hope that they’re able to continue this Giro in a nice way.

 

 “My season is full of goals and of course I’m not happy to pull out of the Giro with the red jersey. I’m a human being, not a machine. My season is full of goals, up until October and I need to recover from this – it has been mentally and physically a hard 12 days.

 

"Of course I have a lot of respect for the Giro d'Italia. But I had a really difficult start to the season with injuries and lack of training. I fought hard to be in shape for the Giro. Before we started we said that stage 12 would be my last stage, no matter what happens. I didn't really want to leave while wearing the red jersey but the team and myself made decision together because I'm a human, not a machine.

 

"I was already fighting hard on Tuesday's stage to Sestola and now I have to prepare for my upcoming goals. Looking at my programme from last year, we saw it was best preparation for the season, so I'm trying to stick to this plan with the team and my trainer.

 

"I understand the fans might not be happy with my decision it but I hope to come back to fight for the red jersey one time."

 

Jurgen Roelandts added:

 

"It was very hectic. We’d agreed before that Tim Wellens and Lars Bak should ride a duo TT, I would say. I had André in front of me so he was a bit sheltered. In the last four kilometres, I came in front of him with Sean de Bie and we did a nice pull and it was a test to go on the front today because with all the turns it wasn’t the easiest.

 

"It makes a bit of difference because we didn’t see the GC guys there in the last lap - it was just the sprinters."

 

Caleb Ewan critical of Greipel’s sprint, considers withdrawal from the Giro

Multiple Tour Down Under stage winner Caleb Ewan narrowly missed out on his first Giro d’Italia stage win today, finishing in second place after great work from his ORICA-GreenEDGE teammates set up the sprint for the 21-year old Australian sprinter.

 

Ewan was dropped off by lead out man Luka Mezgec 350metres from the line and fiercely contested the sprint with eventual winner Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal). The big German known in the peleton as ‘The Gorilla’ left little room for Ewan as the two riders sprinted closely to the barriers with Greipel edging the win by a bike length.

 

“We are getting closer and closer,” said Ewan. “Luka (Mezgec) and the guys did a great job in getting me up there today and you can see that the work we have been putting in is starting to pay off, it was very close.

 

“Obviously I’m disappointed not to get the win, it is such a hard race but I’m gaining lots of valuable experience on every stage and Luka and myself are developing really well together.”

 

"I do not know what I could do if he had not boxed me in. I am a little disappointed about what he did. It was a hard sprint, but he did not allow me to follow my path. Maybe I would have beaten him and perhaps I would not have succeeded, but I felt good and it was frustrating not to be able to do the sprint until the end. It was smart because I was coming at great speed and he closed the path. I think it's not very correct.

 

"The plan was to get to the twelfth stage. I still feel good, but I'm young and maybe I have to stop before collapsing under too much weight. I came here and I feel better than at the Vuelta. I think I've reached another level now. Obviously I wanted to win a stage. It is a disappointment not to have succeeded, but I still have many years ahead of me and I'll have time to win it ".

 

Esteban Chaves finished safely in the bunch alongside the other race favourites meaning there was no change on the general classification. Chaves sits in eighth position two minutes 45seconds down on the pink jersey of Bob Jungels (Etixx-Quickstep) ahead of tomorrows challenging and mountainous stage thirteen.

 

Sport director Matt White was overjoyed with the performance of the team on a tricky stage and the rapid progression of the sprinting partnership developing between Ewan and Mezgec.

 

“Really top performance from our guys today,” said White. “We had two goals for the stage which were to keep Esteban (Chaves) safe and not lose any time and then to set Caleb (Ewan) up for the sprint.

 

“We achieved both our targets and Caleb was really close in the sprint against one of the most experienced world class sprinters there is.”

 

“The understanding that is developing between Luka (Mezgec) and Caleb is fantastic,” continued White. “They have only had a handful of opportunities to work together and they are really starting to gel.

 

“The whole team kept their positions superbly today, it was frantic and chaotic going into the last 16kilometres and everyone did a great job protecting Esteban and Caleb. We can’t be anything other than happy with our performance.”

 

Giacomo Nizzolo: I have the legs to do better than third

The rain that fell for most of the race ceased and the wet roads dried for the bunch finish of the flat 182-kilometer stage 12 Thursday, but no one could stop Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) from sprinting to his third victory in the Giro d'Italia.

 

Giacomo Nizzolo gave everything once again but found himself behind a sudden gap that opened in the last right-hand corner, giving Greipel and Caleb Ewan (Orica GreenEdge) too much headway in the last 300 meters. Although Nizzolo was able to overtake a few riders in front of him, the distance to Greipel and Ewan was too much to close and he settled for third.

 

"I had to spend a lot of energy in the circuits to stay up front; it was really chaotic," explained Nizzolo. " I had to push left and right to find my way through many riders. In the last kilometer I had to decide whether to make an effort to take the wheel of Greipel or stay where I was. I decided to stay where I was and give everything after the corner. But then in the corner somebody made a gap. I made a good sprint for the third place because the first two were gone."

 

"I got another podium today, but I really have the legs to do better," added Nizzolo. "It is not easy to organize in stages like this, and in the end Greipel has shown to be once again stronger. But I have to look ahead now and we'll see for the next stages. To get the maglia rossa and a victory would be the best, absolutely top, and both are still an objective for us. We will keep working to get both."

 

"You have to ask Greipel why he leaves the race. He also has the Tour de France on the program, it is not easy to make two high-level grand tours. For us the red jersey is very important. We will continue to pursue it, as we will continue to pursue a stage win.

 

A two-man breakaway led the race for most of the day as a consistent rain fell, creating a miserable day on the saddle until the final 40 kilometers. It didn't hinder Nizzolo from grabbing the third place points in the two intermediate sprints and adding to his tally in his march toward the red jersey, and when his third place finish points were counted, it was enough to launch him into second overall in the points classification behind Greipel.

 

The rest of the team arrived safely to the finish with no changes in the overall classification.

 

"I was happy to see that we all got safely throught the day," said director Adriano Baffi. "It was a day off from fighting for the GC but with the rainy conditions it was not so easy. We were lucky that the speed was not so high in the stage. Eugenio (Alafaci) had stomach problems and slight fever overnight and he could barely eat this morning but he was a fighter and made it through."

 

Tomorrow the Giro heads into the mountains, and the GC fight will take center stage again.

 

Sacha Modolo unable to close small gap in hectic Giro sprint

It was a super team, good legs and fierce determination for Sacha Modolo in the sprint. LAMPRE-MERIDA's sprinter was 4th at the finish line after a bunch sprint which was prepared in a perfect way by the blue-fuchsia-green team, thanks to Mohoric and Ferrari who led Modolo to the front, head to head with the Lotto-Soudal's train which was working for Greipel.
 

After the last corner, Modolo had a little gap to Greipel and Ewan and he could not close it, obtaining 4th place.  This result joins the two third places which were obtained in the 2nd and in the 7th stage.

Sports director Maini commented the performance of the blue-fuchsia-green team:

 

"The bad weather and attacks of a substantial number of riders were the only two factors that could prevent a bunch sprint,” he said. “The escape was composed of only two members, so it was easy for the teams of the sprinters to keep the situation under control, despite the heavy rain which stopped in the final circuit.

 

”We moved well to stay in the lead, a key factor in a circuit with many curves. Modolo did well in the last turn at 300 meters, but Greipel and Ewan were even better, creating a gap between themselves and their rivals.

 

“The victory would have had a special taste, but fourth place is a confirmation that Modolo is always present in the fight between sprinters and that the team is able to make a contribution whenever it is necessary.”

 

At the end of the race, LAMPRE-MERIDA was awarded as Winning Team (time classification) and Super Team (points classification) for yesterday’s stage.

 

Alexandr Porsev emerges as one of the most consistent sprinters at the Giro

Aleksandr Porsev got another nice top ten result in this 99th Giro d’Italia, finishing 5th in Stage 12, a pan-flat stage from Noale to Bibione (182 km). Viacheslav Kuznetsov finished 12th.

 

“I felt quite good today and I was motivated for this stage because we all knew it would be a great opportunity for sprinters. So, in the final I was able to get a good position. Later however there was a crash, so I had to brake and to spend energy to come back in front. I did all I could to get a good result and finished 5th. I hoped for something more, but that’s cycling,” saidAleksandr Porsev.

 

There were no changes in GC. Bob Jungels (Etixx – Quick Step) remains the race leader overall. Ilnur Zakarin is still 7th.

 

Moreno Hofland: Today sixth place was the maximum

Moreno Hofland finished sixth in the 12th stage of the Giro d’Italia today. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s sprinter struggled to come close to victory over the tortuous roads in Bibione. André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) won his third stage.

 

The stage ran completely flat, but it still caused stress for the riders. It was raining during the majority of the race.

 

“It became quite cold and the riders had to change clothes often,” Sports Director Addy Engels said. “Primoz Roglic crashed two times, as well, but he didn’t seem to suffer any damage.  

 

“Fortunately, the rain stopped during the final 20 kilometres, but it was the right decision of the organisation to stop the clock with one lap to go. That took some stress out of the peloton.”

 

The group arrived in a sprint regardless.

 

“Jos van Emden and I started a bit too far from behind with our preparation for the sprint,” Hofland said. “It was narrower and more technical than the route book told us, so that made it hard to move up. Together with Enrico Battaglin, I was able to do so eventually. I came out of the final turn in sixth position and finished sixth, as well. I wasn’t able to go faster than this, so this was the best result possible today.”

 

On Friday in the 13th stage, the riders have to climb often.

 

“It’s going to be day for the overall riders,” Engels explained. “The ascents are steep, tough and technical. Steven Kruijswijk came through the first days after the rest day quite well, so he’s still in his rhythm. It’s going to be an important day for him.”

 

Daniel Oss: If it had been raining, we could have surprised the sprinters

A bunch sprint on Stage 12 of the Giro d’Italia came as no surprise on the flattest stage of this year’s race, which saw Rick Zabel cross the line in ninth place.

 

Daniel Oss attacked solo early in the race and was later joined by Micro Maestri (Bardiani-CSF), however the duo was kept on a tight leash by Lotto Soudal who were keen to see a sprint finish.

 

Oss was reeled in with 22 kilometers to go, after claiming both intermediate sprints, as the peloton approached the first of three laps of the finishing circuit in Bibione. Rick Zabel was positioned well in the small group of sprinters who vied for the win, eventually crossing in ninth place.

 

Daniel Oss said:

 

“It was a stage for a breakaway in some ways because of the rain and bad weather. With the bad weather the final circuit could have played out well for a breakaway as it was tricky with lots of corners. It was a good day more or less, but there were a few teams who were focused on controlling the race for a bunch sprint, so we didn’t have much of a chance of staying away. We went for the points at the intermediate sprints and we got them.”

 

Rick Zabel again in the top 10 in Giro d’Italia sprint

Rick Zabel said:

 

“It was a really technical finishing circuit so I tried to enter in the best position. Manuel Quinziato did a great job to protect me and keep me out of the wind and then it was my job to stay there until the final. It is always pretty hectic on a circuit with lots of corners but once you are in the front, it’s easier to stay there especially when the circuit is tight so it’s harder for more people to come from out of nowhere. In the sprint I just tried to hold my position as much as possible. I felt good and I had good legs, even after crashing yesterday.”

 

Max Sciandri, Sports Director, added:

 

“We had four guys in mind for the breakaway today, Daniel Oss, Stefan Küng, Joey Rosskopf and Manuel Quinziato, but on the final we really wanted Stefan to try and shake things up. If it had been raining on the finishing circuit it would have been a totally different race. But we knew quite a few hours before the finish that it was dry so we had a good idea that it would play out in a bunch sprint.

 

“The breakaway was controlled well by Lotto Soudal, so they never really had more than a two-minute gap. They were kept just down the road for the whole race. But Daniel got the sprint points so he’s moved up in the sprint jersey competition now. We have to try where he can, so at the end of the day I’m pretty happy.

 

“It was good to see Rick up there again in the top ten. We weren’t sure how we would feel after the crash yesterday so we gave him a free run in the finish to see how the legs were, and obviously they were feeling pretty good.”

 

Neo-pro not too old to go on the attack, Colbrelli takes over from Ruffoni

Thanks to Mirco Maestri, Bardiani again stood out in the daily breakaway. Together with Oss (BMC), Maestri was away for 140km.

 

“Since the beginning of the Giro I looked for a breakaway, finally I got it. Well, we knew it was really, really hard to stay away from the peloton, but that doesn’t matter. For a neo-professional rider like me, it was a useful experience,” said Maestri,

 

"It's a thrill to be in the Giro, especially when I remember that last year some people had told me I had to stop because I was too old,” he told Spaziociclismo. “But I thank the Reverberis, both father and son, who have given me this opportunity because it is because of them that I am here. They are the only ones who believed in me. Now I'm paying them back with some nice actions and work at the service of my teammates. I want to continue like this.

 

"Unfortunately it was just the first break but I am one who likes to attack from the distance. I'll definitely try again, also for the visibility of the team. I am aware that it will be hard to make it to the finish, but I want to try again.”

 

Sonny Colbrelli, who finished tenth, took the best result for the #GreenTeam.

 

“I was working for Ruffoni and Simion but, due to the hectic finale, I found myself in first position while they were too far behind to sprint. At 500 meters from the finish I had to brake to to avoid a crash with Gazprom riders and I lost the chance to do a better sprint,” said Colbrelli.

 

Manuel Belletti: When you are alone in a sprint you get nowhere

It was another top 15 for Wilier – Southeast  with Manuel Belletti.

 

The Romagnolo sprinter tried to move forward but he couldn't get there, just like teammate Filippo Pozzato who had a flat tire with 15km to go and wasn't able to get back to the peloton.

 

”Alone you get anywhere. You have to take ttoo much wind and make too many comebacks and fight too had to maintain a position. Then the legs are dead,” Belletti tweeted.

 

Crash destroys sprint for Nikias Arndt at the Giro d’Italia

Nikias Arndt latched on to Lotto Soudal’s lead-out train as the flat 182km trek from Noale neared its conclusion. However, Arndt was unable to sprint today as a crash took place just before the final 2.5km which slowed him down.

 

Bert De Backer was the first to cross the line for Giant-Alpecin in 15th place followed by Arndt in 23rd place.

 

The overall race standings remain unchanged after Thursday’s rainy stage. Bob Jungels (Etixx – Quick Step) is still in the lead. The team’s best-placed rider is Georg Preidler in 30th place.

 

Nikias Arndt said: “We had a long and rainy day which we all survived in a good way. The team did a great job towards the final lap. We really wanted to be at the front when we hit the lap and that went perfectly well.

 

“On the last lap, it got really difficult with Lotto Soudal setting a high pace and always blocking the road but I had a great support from Bert and Albert [Timmer]. On the last lap, we lost a few positions and just when Albert tried to bring me to the front one guy of Nippo – Vini Fantini crashed and we almost had to stop. Then I wasn’t able to get back to the front. However, I’m really happy with the support of my teammates throughout the whole stage.”

 

Coach Marc Reef gave his reactions after the stage: “Today was a sprint stage on a challenging final course. We went for Nikias –  Bert and Albert keeping him in position but unfortunately he was behind a crash with 2.5km to go. He tried to come back to the front but didn’t succeed. In the end there was no result for the team.”

 

Bob Jungels: You have to ask the favourites whether I am a contender or not

Stage 12 of the Giro d’Italia (Noale – Bibione) was a short and pan-flat one, but the race still was tensioned, because of the rain which accompanied the riders since the start, before leaving them with around one hour to go. For that reason, the organizers decided to take the time of the peloton at the first passage on the line, which also meant that there were no more bonus seconds at the finish.

 

The main bunch rolled in safely around one minute later, and Bob Jungels was there together with his teammates, who protected him since the start of the day on what was the last opportunity for the sprinters in the second week of the Corsa Rosa.

 

“Today was difficult because of the rain, but we had good clothes for this kind of conditions and it made things easier. The organizers took a wise decision to stop the clock on the circuit, as this helped us arrive safely at the finish line”, said Jungels – who’s leading a Grand Tour for the first time in his career – before sharing his thoughts on tomorrow’s stage, one which will include four categorized climbs: “The high mountains await us on Friday and I’m not sure what to expect. My shape is good, but I’m not getting carried away; after all, this is my debut Giro. As I said earlier this week, I will take it day by day and see what happens. All that came and will come since taking the pink jersey is a bonus.

 

"It was like I said before: at the Giro even the sprinters' stages aren't easy. But I paid a lot of attention in the corners. It was a good decision to neutralize the last lap for the overall classification. Now I'm looking forward to defending the Maglia Rosa in the mountains. I'll do it with all the power I have. We'll see if it's enough to hold off the other GC contenders. I don't know how I am compared to them. I don't expect too much from myself but I'll do my best. I have showed that my shape is great but tomorrow will be the first test in the really high mountains and we will see what is going to happen.

 

"Maybe you have to ask the others if they see me as a contender, I don't know. For me, it's the first time I'm in the GC of a Grand Tour, so like I said before I'm going to take it day by day and we'll see tomorrow what is going to happen."

 

"Of course I'm ready, I've shown in the last few days that my shape is good. I'll fight for my jersey and then we'll see what can happen. I haven't done any of the climbs so it will be a surprise for me.

 

"I think that it will be a really tough stage. At the moment, I don't really know where I am compared to the others in the really high climbs. I have shown that my shape is great but tomorrow will be the first test in the really high mountains.

 

“I didn’t expect to take the Maglia Rosa at all. I’m still in it after the 12th stage going to the big mountains, and it’s a great pleasure.”

 

Matteo Trentin critical of technical Giro finish

Matteo Trentin could only manage 16th in the sprint.

 

"A dangerous finale, very narrow roads, and lots of bends. Nobody is really interested in the rider’s safety and their lives,” he told Eurosport.

 

"It was ok for the GC riders but what about the sprinters? It’s always dangerous. Maybe we should be planning some easier or safer finishes. Most bends are ok but maybe some wider roads."

 

Ill Kristian Sbaragli unable to mix it up in Giro sprint

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka's main focus was firstly to stay safe in the peloton, protect the GC riders and possibly deliver Kristian Sbaragli to the finish for the sprint. The Italian sprinter has been struggling with a bit of bronchitis the last few days but he was keen to give the finale a try today. Jay Thomson, Johann van Zyl and Jaco Venter were all seen on the front of the peloton in the build up to the sprint as they kept Sbaragli safe and in contention for the sprint.

 

Lotto-Soudal had the dominant team over the technical circuit and delivered Greipel to another win. It was just a small group that contested the sprint in the end though and despite Sbaragli not being 100% he was in the mix, but would not finish with a top result today by crossing the line 18th. Kanstantsin Siutsou had no problems out on the road and also maintained his 16th place on GC.

 

Sports director Jean Pierre Heynderickx said:
 

“On paper it was a pure sprinters stage and we have a sprinter here, Kristian. He is sick, he has had bronchitis for two days so we had one goal, to bring Kristian to a good position to sprint but it's not easy if you have to bring a sick rider to try and make a result.

 

”The 2nd thing was to keep our GC riders, Kanstantsin and Igor Anton in a good position, especially with the bad weather. There was some crosswind and a local lap of 8km with 14 turns in, so it was dangerous in the peloton as some splits could happen and you lose seconds but in the end we kept our GC riders in a good position and Kristian was fighting in the sprint.”

 

Rafal Majka ready to make his move in Giro d’Italia mountains

After the sheer speed and attacking nature of yesterday, riders were able to relax a little more on today’s Giro stage. Completely flat and with a finish made for the sprinters, this was a day where the GC contenders simply had to stay safe and conserve their energy ready for the next foray into the mountains tomorrow. With no changes to the GC standings owing to a neutralised finish, Rafal Majka kept hold of his sixth position in the GC, while Manuele Boaro was the first Tinkoff rider over the line in 26th.

 

After yesterday’s searing pace, the speed in the bunch was slower today, as Sport Director, Tristan Hoffman explained from the finish.

 

“It was a steady day today but in the first two or three hours it was very cold and wet which made it a bit tougher. The break was just two guys and the teams interested in a sprint set a good pace to make sure the gap never went out too far.”

 

As the pace ramped up ahead of the sprint, the aim for Tinkoff and its leader, Rafal Majka, was just to stay safe, as Hoffman explained.

 

“The finishing circuit was quite tricky today and so the organisation decided to neutralise the GC for the last lap so this made things a lot less nervous heading into the finish.”

 

As the GC times were taken at the start of the final lap, there was less of a need for the overall contenders to stay with the sprinters, but it was still equally important to ensure the team wasn’t involved in any crashes on the final lap. With bright sunshine instead of the predicted rain, the race finished without incident, with the guys coming in safely, ready for tomorrow’s mountain stage.

 

After his crash yesterday, Evgeny Petrov was a welcome sight at the start today. The Russian rider was receiving medical attention and assessment at the end of stage 11, after a crash that had forced other riders to retire from the race. The more relaxed day and neutralised finish meant riders had more of a chance to recover, explained Hoffman.

 

“This steadier stage has been good for the team as Jay has been a bit sick but looked better today, and Evgeny made it through today and was never in trouble after his crash yesterday, so hopefully he can continue improving tomorrow.”

 

Tomorrow the race hits one of its toughest stages so far. The mountain stage from Palmanova to Cividale del Friuli is where the race for the GC will really begin to take shape, with four categorised climbs on the 170km route – two first category and two second category. The roads are narrow and winding, and perfect for attacking moves. The first two climbs, which top out at 15% and 16% respectively, will wear riders down, while the final two – the first category Cima Porzus and second category Valle, will be where we’ll see the GC contenders go for the time gaps, and maybe even the stage win. This is bound to be one of the most exciting days of the race so far. Hoffman and the team were anticipating a busy day in the mountains.

 

“Tomorrow will be a tough day - we will try maybe to get in the break to either go for the stage result or to support Rafal in the final. Rafal is feeling good and hopefully we can continue to make progress on GC.”

 

Sky: We had Henao for the breakaway and Knees for the sprint

Team Sky conserved energy to emerge safely from a soaking wet flat stage 12 at the Giro d'Italia.

 

The day always looked destined to belong to the sprinters and, without a traditional fast finisher in the lineup, Christian Knees battled it out in the closing stages before being held up in a small crash 2km from home.

 

After the stage Sport Director Dario Cioni told TeamSky.com that the plan was to send Sebastian Henao in a break, but only two men went up the road.

 

He said: "It was clear from the start that a big group wasn't going to be allowed to go and we weren't keen on Sebastian being out in a small group all day, only to be caught late on. We would have tried if a bigger group had gone.

 

"After the two men went, the only thing to do was get to the final safely."

 

Cioni added that Knees was given the freedom to have a dig in the closing stages, but when the crash derailed his chances he looked instead to the coming stages:

 

"Christian does a lot of work for his team-mates and today we thought he could have a go for himself. He had freedom, but obviously it didn't work out.

 

"Tomorrow is a different type of stage and the guys are ready for it. Friday and Saturday should provide good opportunities for Sebastian and Mikel [Nieve] ahead of the time trial on Sunday."

 

Movistar captains safely through wet day in the Giro

What appeared to be a quiet stage, 182km from Noale to Bibione, was made complicated by the harsh weather conditions from the start. The 12th day of the Giro d'Italia hid a psychological toughness for Movistar Layers of clothing were used in every way and the team stayed in front in the most dangerous sections to avoid crash and always without losing sight of Astana and Vicenzo Nibali, facing the high mountains which begin tomorrow.

 

The stage victory was for Andre Greipel (LTS) and the 'maglia rosa' is still in possession of Bob Jungels (EQS), with Amador 24" and Valverde to 1'07" behind. With the second and third place safe,  Movistar Team faces the decisive part of the Corsa Rosa in excellent condition . 

 

Astana ready to battle in Giro d’Italia mountains

"It was a stage for sprinters and we tried to save as much energy as possible. It was a pity with the bad weather that made the race harder,” said Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev at the finish line.

 

"Now the real mountains arrive and my job will be to help our captain to be as far forward as possible in the group. The legs are improving day by day and I am ready to give my contribution.”

 

"Tomorrow is the first of three very challenging stages that will give the overall standings a new physiognomy. Vincenzo Nibali is ready and also Jakob Fuglsang is able to make a good result in the mountains of Friuli,” said sport director Alexandr Shefer.

 

Ag2r at the Giro d’Italia: It was almost like a rest day

Ag2r’s Matteo Montaguti said:

 

"The challenge of the day was the rain. It was expected that it would accompany us throughout the race. Finally, we were spared at the finish. We were lucky that the rain stopped just before the final circuit which was quite difficult with a lot of turns. The organization wanted to stop the time at the penultimate passage of the line. We did not have to fight in the sprint to avoid losing time with Pozzovivo. Everything went wel. I think it was the least difficult stage for us since the start. Mentally and physically, it was almost a rest day. The next three days will perhaps be the most difficult of the Giro. We are motivated to attack with our leader, everyone works well. We have a good moral.”

 

Damiano Cunego: Tomorrow I’ll try to fly a bit under the radar

"Tomorrow’s a stage with four GPM climbs. I’ll see if I can get to there but I’ll try to fly under the radar a bit,” Damianu Cunego said after having spent another stage in the blue jersey.

 

"I’m not sure about the specifics of each downhill, I know that they are really difficult and the climbs will be hard as well. I’m going to have to be really attentive and be very careful in thinking about the route and the race."

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