Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo) may have crossed the line in third place on stage 12 of the Giro d'Italia in Bagno di Romagna, but the Italian was relegated to fourth place behind Jumbo-Visma's George Bennett after he deviated from his line in the sprint to the finish against the New Zealand road champion.
The pair had been part of the final surviving quartet from the day's early breakaway, contesting the finish on the fast run-in along with eventual stage winner Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroën) and second-placed Chris Hamilton (Team DSM), but both were left behind with 2.8 kilometres to go as Brambilla refused to lead the chase.
Brambilla and Bennett exchanged words on the run-in as they chased behind the two leaders, with Brambilla closing the stage by sprinting across the road and cutting off Bennett, who swung up an arm of protest at the finish.
The amended result now sees Bennett take third on the stage, with Brambilla relegated to the back of the two-man group he finished with, in fourth.
"I have nothing to say," Brambilla said immediately after the finish, before his relegation was decided.
"Just ask George Bennett how to lose the race. Sometimes it's better to watch some racing on TV so you can learn how to do it."
For his part, Bennett reflected on the disappointments of the Giro's opening week, which saw him lose 1:59 to the GC leaders in Sestola and a further 1:44 at Campo Felice.
Now in 23rd place, 11:21 down on race leader Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) and out of the GC running, he said that he's looking forward to the upcoming mountain stages, where leg power would take precedence over cat-and-mouse tactics and polemica in the breakaways.
"Today was an opportunity, and like I said we gambled for the win. We're not here to close everything and end up third or fourth in the sprint," Bennett said.
"Stage hunting in breakaways is not normally what I do, and maybe it takes a while to get the feel of that a little bit. I think the next stages as we head into the big mountains, it's more about legs than playing the game, tactics, cat and mouse, so hopefully that's a bit more for me."
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