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Giro d'Italia 2011: Stage 12


Welcome back to the Giro d'Italia, today moving up the Adriatic coastline for a pancake-flat 184 kilometres bound to end in a fast finish in Ravenna. Last chance for Cavendish, Petacchi et al. to sort it out at this years' race!

Buongiorno cycling lovers. Stage 12 was started at 12.57, and the attacks went from the gun. Four riders were able to make a gap after seven kilometres of racing: Michal Golas (Vacansoleil), Stef Clement (Rabobank), Davide Ricci Bitti (Farnese Vini) and Miguel Minguez Ayala (Euskaltel).

166km remaining from 184km

Our four escapees have no importance whatsoever in the overall standings. Golas is the "best-placed" at 52 minutes from race leader Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank).

Today's stage 12 started in Castelfiardo in beautiful weather conditions. Bright sunshine, temperatures at 16° Celsius. Not too hot... the riders will be enjoying this relatively tranquil stage before the Giro moves up into the mountains again tomorrow.

162km remaining from 184km

Looking at the different points classifications, it seems today's stage is really all about the stage win - there is nothing more at stake - save for the most combative rider classification. If Alessandro Petacchi gets a good result in the finish today - and he theoretically should - he could take the honours from Alberto Contador as he is only one point behind the Spaniard.

153km remaining from 184km

In any case, Petacchi will be motivated for the finish today in Ravenna. He won there in 2005 and it may be the last time he'll be up against Mark Cavendish at this year's Giro, as the HTC sprinter should be leaving Italia tonight. Ale-Jet will be lookign to make amends for lost opportunities since his stage win in Parma eleven days ago.

HTC-Highroad have been at the front of the bunch looking to keep the gap reasonable.

Stage 6 winner Francsico Ventoso (Movistar) is also one of today's top favourites. The Spaniard is in great shape and could again take advantage of the duel between Cavendish and Petacchi.

139km remaining from 184km

The latest time split gives the break an advantage of 2'28. It seems doomed already, and the four riders ahead should feel quite discouraged by it...

114km remaining from 184km

103km remaining from 184km

They are on a large road now with some spectators out of town. HTC is still at the front of the bunch, strung out.

Ricci Bitti is getting a bite of food at his team car, and instructions: Ride, ride, ride and don't look back...

The temperature on the road has risen to about 23° Celsius, and the sea looks fantastic with sandy beaches and tree-covered cliffs.

The breakaway has come to the feed zone, riders are grabbing their bags. The current gap is 2'45".

But there's not only Cavendish, Petacchi and Ventoso to be reckoned with today. Oscar Gatto from Farnese Vini also scored a stage already and has proven mighty fast.

Racing through Riccione now. This town seems to consist only of hotels, shops and restaurants, and of course the beach. Bella Vita!

There should be a good breeze coming from the sea now as we can see seople on the beach flying kites. The riders doen't seem disturbed by it, though - should be more of a tailwind.

At least our breakaway quartet gets some cheers from the roadside spectators, they know they're bound to get reeled in.

We're in Rimini now. The name of this town will be forever linked to the death of Marco Pantani in 2004. In about 20 kilometres, we'll be in Cesenatico, where 'Il Pirata' was born in 1970.

HTC's Marco Pinotti has been pulling the bunch for a while now. There are three HTC riders at the front, followed by some Lotto and Vacansoleil riders.

Niemiec from Lampre is getting some bottles at the back of the bunch - a jerseyfull.

The gap is down to just over two minutes now, even though there has been no hard racing... With 60 kilometres to go, the riders are really taking it easy today, taking advantage of this flat stage to just roll along before the Giro hits the mountains again tomorrow.

Average speed after the thrid hour of racing: 40.6 km/h. That is the lowest calculated speed of the official timetable. The pace should pick up somewhat towards the end but don't expect the finish before 5.15pm CET.

Patrick Gretsch from HTC at the front of the bunch now as they go round a series of big roundabouts.

The gap is increasing again, now at 2.53 minutes.

The two other riders were Ardila (Geox) and Cardoso (Radioshack). Everybody's OK, though.

45km remaining from 184km

Roman Kreuziger (Astana) takes the time to chat to his fellow countryman Simon Spilak from Lampre.

Both Cavendish and Petacchi look ready to get themselves fired up in a few.

The gap is coming down... barely two minutes with 35 kilometres to go.

They're on a wide two-lane road moving away from the coast towards Ravenna airport.

Astana's Alexsandr Dyachenko has dropped back to get some water for his team leaders. The speed has indeed picked up to 45 km/h. We'll be at 60 in the finale... fofrtunately it's all long wide and straight roads towards the finish in Ravenna.

Cav is tightening his shoes.

It4s Montaguti, he's getting a new rear wheel. What a drag to chase back on in a sprint finale....

23km remaining from 184km

The road is nice and wide now, HTC is still at the front and probably won't give up that position until the end.

17km remaining from 184km

15km remaining from 184km

Now they're strung out. One rider missed the right hand side of a roundabout - and his position.

The break is caught, a new race begins.

11km remaining from 184km

Everybody wants to get to the front now, even Contador is looking for a space where noone is in front of him.

8km remaining from 184km

Still wide roads out of town. There will be a last bend just before the last kilomtere, but that's it.

Movistar have not shown themselves yet, now they do. One rider taking to the front now.

5km remaining from 184km

BMC running to the front now, beside the HTC train still led by Pinotti.

4km remaining from 184km

3km remaining from 184km

There's a bend, and another yet to come. Positions unchanged.

Whoops, Renshaw swerved there but got back in control. Adrenaline!

crash! Modolo from Colnago?

The front 20 riders still together

Ciolek is there, Belletti...

Cavendish takes it, in front of Apollonio from Sky, Petacchi third

The other groups come in. There was noone hurt as far as we could see

Great result for Appolonio. He almost got Cavendish, too, Petacchi just couldn't come past Cavendish, he was just too fast.

Top ten results:

That's it for today, please join us again tomorrow for the first Dolomite mountain stage to the Grossglockner summit finish. Ciao tutti!

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