There were bumps and spills on a long and mountainous stage 12 of the Giro d’Italia that provided unexpected drama, but in the end Egan Bernal rode protected by his Ineos Grenadiers teammates on the second-longest stage of the three weeks, 212 kilometres, to retain the maglia rosa.
The win was taken in an aggressive ride Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroën), who was the first to attack from a four-rider late breakaway held off Chris Hamilton (Team DSM) in a two-rider sprint in Bagno di Romagna.
Finishing 15 seconds later, it appeared that Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo) would be third as he crossed the line ahead of George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma). Having missed the late attack with 2.8km to go, the pair looked at each other to chase, seemed to exchange words and then Brambilla deviating from his line in front of the New Zealand road champion in the closing metres. Race judges relegated the Italian into fourth for cutting off Bennett.
It was only four kilometres from the start in the famous Piazza il Campo in Siena when the unpredictable began to create havoc. First, it was Marc Soler (Movistar) who crashed hard, but remounted his bike and didn’t have noticeable injuries. However, he rode alongside his team car for a long while and teammate Albert Torres then withdrew from the race after another 45 or so kilometres citing pain to his back and ribs.
It was a hard blow to Movistar as Soler was riding in 11th position on GC. He joined the growing list of GC contenders to abandon the Giro, adding to Mikel Landa (Bahrian Victorious) and Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers).
Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation) would crash out of the race about an hour later, while Gino Mäder (Bahrain Victorious), Kobe Goossens (Lotto Soudal), Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Alex Dowsett (Israel Start-Up Nation) all retired due to illness and injury.
The positive story of the day came from a breakaway of 16 riders that had formed once the race reach Florence and most of the 3,700 metres of climbing in the Apennines still to come. The final climb of the Passo del Carnaio was the steepest of the stage, and Brambilla was aggressive.
Vendrame was the first to get away halfway on that climb, and was by Bennett, Hamilton, and Brambilla and they surged away on the top of the climb and the fast descent for the finish in Bagno di Romagna. The AG2R Citroën rider would take his first WorldTour victory, improving on a second-place stage finish at the 2019 Giro d’Italia.
Watch the Giro d'Italia stage 12 highlights video above.
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