Simon Yates: There are no easy days here at the Giro d'Italia

Simon Yates finished safely in the peloton after the rain-soaked finale of stage 12 to Imola, happy to have avoided the splits on the way to the Enzo and Dino Ferrari motor racing track and then resisted a series of attacks on the rolling 15km circuit around the Tre Monti hills.

The Mitchelton-Scott leader finished a relieved 32nd place behind Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), the winner of the tumultuous stage. Yates still leads Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) by 47 seconds, with Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) third at 1:04.

"I was hoping for a quiet day but every day at the Giro seems to have a little bit of something," Yates explained post-stage, clearly understanding the ethos of the Corsa Rosa after a week as race leader.

Race director Mauro Vegni included two sprint stages between the Apennines and the Zoncolan to perhaps help the overall contenders recover between the mountain finishes. Yates smiled widely when the Vegni race diagram was put to him.

"It's hard to say to if you ever recover during a Grand Tour, every day is difficult, there are no easy days here at the Giro," he said firmly.

"The final circuit was much more difficult than many expected. I was taken aback by how difficult it was, even if the conditions made it more difficult. We had to be on our toes until the final. Fortunately, the team was there to help me."

Asked if he perhaps struggled in the rain and if it could be a problem come the Zoncolan on Saturday, Yates explained that he's from northern England, where it rains close to 200 days a year.

"Nobody likes to race in the rain but I have great confidence in the equipment and especially the tyres we have. Being from the UK means you have to be used to the rain. It's not really a problem," he said.

Yates stayed wrapped up in a team gillet when the heavens opened and focused on staying near the front to avoid any problems in the finale. He didn't know that some of his overall rivals were in the second group at one point. He was focused on possible attacks up the road.

"I wasn't really aware of the split and who was in it," he explained. "But I'm always quite ready if someone tries anything. I expected there may have been a situation where someone attacked but I was always close to be able to react to any attacks."

Yates appears more confident by the day. He has now worn the maglia rosa for six stages and has proved he is the rider to beat as the likes of Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) slip gradually out of contention. Many now see the final nine stages of the Giro d'Italia as a battle between Yates and 2017 winner Dumoulin.

Yates is asked daily how much time he expects to lose to the Dutchman in Tuesday's 34.2km time trial but he avoids giving a simple mathematical answer as easily he rides in the rain or attacks on mountain finishes. He is first focused on the weekend stages to the Zoncolan and Sappada.

"My mind is on next week and this weekend," he said. "I know it's going to be difficult but we'll see when we get there and I'll try my best."

"Tom was looking really good yesterday and impressed me. The others are not far behind either."

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