By Jean-François Quénet in Pinerolo
The peloton obviously decided to take a day off instead of competing seriously during the 198 kilometer stage 12 of the Giro d'Italia. But there were still some hot spot sprints on the way, and it would have been an offense to the organization to boycott them.
The Cremolino prime at kilometer 38 was contested by some French riders who have been relatively quiet in this Giro edition thus far. Lilian Jégou from Française des Jeux won, and Mickaël Buffaz from Cofidis and Ag2r's Carl Naibo continued on after the sprint. Naibo soon stopped pedaling and Buffaz, a 28 year-old who turned pro with Jean Delatour before racing for RAGT, Agritubel, and now Cofidis, found himself alone in the front without having intended to break away.
As he awaited the bunch, it happened that the speed behind him was even slower than his 20 kilometers per hour, so although the average speed of the race didn't exceed 32.5km/h, he still got a five minute gap.
Buffaz stopped to answer the call of nature and he got a wheel change after a flat tyre at kilometer 138, but TV viewers were surprised to see him in tears and upset and in a moment of crisis by the side of the road. After some words of encouragement by directeur sportif Bernard Quilfen, Buffaz was back on his bike riding with focus for the remaining 50km to go.
"He cracked emotionally," explained Cofidis' team manager Eric Boyer. "He didn't know what he had to do. This is his first Grand Tour and he was afraid that his move would be badly interpreted." Buffaz was caught after 147 kilometers off the front, and he's the new leader of the "Fuga Gilera" trophy, which is based on the number of kilometers covered in breakaways. He leads that classification ahead of Tinkoff riders Mikhail Ignatiev, Elio Aggiano, and Pavel Brutt.