Stefano Oldani (Alpecin-Fenix) won the three-man breakaway sprint to take the stage 12 victory at the Giro d’Italia. Gijs Leemreize (Jumbo-Visma) was the first to launch his sprint but he was was caught and passed by both Oldani and runner-up Lorenzo Rota (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) in a sprint race to the line in Genoa.
“It was not easy. I knew Rota, he's my friend, I knew he was also fast so I had to watch out. For sure the other guy it was obvious he tried to anticipate. It was not so easy to manage but in the end I did it," Oldani said.
"For sure [Mathieu van der Poel] is crucial. We knew already that if we were present with more than one in the break a lot of guys would be watching Mathieu and it was a good chance for the other guys. Today, we managed really well, we were the only team that had three. We did it.”
The three riders were part of an original 20-plus breakaway that emerged after 60km of racing. An attack over the penultimate ascent of the day, La Colletta, saw Rota, Oldani and Leemreize form the day’s winning move. Although a chase group formed behind that included Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious), Lukas Hamilton (BikeExchange) and Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe), they couldn’t close the gap on the run-in to Genoa where Mollema took fifth place at 57 seconds back.
Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafreo) maintained his lead in the overall classification at 12 seconds ahead of Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates), while Romain Bardet (Team DSM) is in fourth at 14 seconds back.
“Today was amazing in the first hour, I looked at my Wahoo and I thought this is impossible - maybe 53 or 54k in the first hour. Then the breakaway went and the team managed really well. I like the heat, but OK, we never decide the weather so we have to adapt. I also ride in the rain and cold days,” López said, who also commented on spending nine days in the leader’s jersey.
“For sure when I arrived here my objective was to try to win some stages but now I give one dream, nine days in maglia rosa was amazing.”
How it unfolded
The longest day at the Giro d’Italia, stage 12 offered the field a 204km race between Parma and Genoa. The stage included two intermediate sprints at Borgo Val di Taro (56km) and at Ferrada (123km), along with three categorized ascents over Passo del Bocco (96km), La Colletta (150km) and Valico di Trensasco (167km) before a relatively flat run-in to Genoa.
It was the first time the Passo del Bocco has been included in the Giro d’Italia since the tragic death of Wouter Weylandt during the race in 2011. The organizers planned to honour Weylandt’s life as the riders descended the Passo del Bocco during the race.
It was a fast start to the race with several breakaway attempts but none were successful heading into the first sprint of the day. Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) took the 12 points at the intermediate sprint in Borgo val di Taro, following by Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates).
It took 60km before a large breakaway of more than 20 riders emerged at the front that included Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost), Gijs Leemreize and Pascal Eenkhoorn (Jumbo-Visma), Nico Denz (Team DSM), Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe), Mathieu van der Poel, Oscar Riesebeek and Stefano Oldani (Alpecin-Fenix), Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroën), Davide Ballerini (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious), Rein Taaramäe and Lorenzo Rota (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Matteo Sobrero and Lukas Hamilton (BikeExchange-Jayco), Michael Schwarzmann (Lotto Soudal), Valerio Conti (Astana Qazaqstan), Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa), Will Barta (Movistar), Simone Consoni (Cofidis).
The highest-placed rider on GC among the breakaway was Kelderman at 11:02 behind, followed by Hamilton at 11:56, Mollema at 14:48 back and Buitrago at 17:41 back from overall leader Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo), while teams that have missed the break included Ineos Grenadiers and UAE Team Emirates.
The breakaway riders pushed their lead out to more than five minutes as they approached Passo del Bocco, that crested at the 96km mark, a 6km climb with an average gradient of 4%. Mollema was the first rider over the top taking the nine mountain points on offer, while bridgers Davide Gabburo and Luca Covili (Bardiani-CDF-Faizanè) and Edoardo Zardini (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) connected with the breakaway.
Back in the field Trek-Segafredo, UAE Team Emirates, Bahrain Victorious led the bunch over the ascent.
Oldani sprinted for the points in Ferrada as they approached the next ascent over La Colletta, that crested at the 150km mark, was a 9km climb with an average gradient of 4.3%. There, Rota made a crucial attack to take the full points over the top.
The move sparked the three-rider break from the front group, with Rota joined by Oldani and Leemreize, who gained a minute on a chasing group of Buitrago, Kelderman, Hamilton, Denz and Mollema. Van der Poel, Ballerini and Cort also tried to chase the leaders but were distanced on the slopes of the Valico di Trensasco.
The third and final ascent, Valico di Trensasco, crested at the 167km mark, was a 4.3km climb with an average gradient of 8%. The leading trio maintained a minute gap on the four chasers; Buitrago, Mollema, Kelderman and Hamilton, as Denz fell off pace.
Rota captured the mountain points over the top ahead of Oldani and then Leemreize. While their gap to the four chasers dropped to 35 seconds, they pushed it back out to 50 seconds on the roads toward Genoa.
Meanwhile, the main peloton showed little interest in the breakaway, and started the last ascent more than seven minutes in back, a gap that stretched to eight minutes with 15km to go. The race passed over the Ponte San Giorgio, the site of the former Morandi bridge collapse killed 43 people in 2018, and where 43 trees have been planted in a circle to remember the victims.
The trio maintained their gap of 40 seconds all the way into Genoa as the four chasing riders appeared to lose commitment to the effort in the closing kilometres.
Leemreize made the first attack inside the final kilometre but Oldani quickly closed the gap and the trio played a coy game of cat and mouse into the closing metres. The Jumbo-Visma rider went again with 200 metres to go but he was caught and passed by the faster Oldani and Rota to the line.
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