Welcome to coverage of stage 12 of the Giro d'Italia from Noale to Bibione
Hello to you all and welcome to today's coverage of the Giro d'Italia. It's a pan-flat day out there and we should see a bunch sprint to the line.
The riders will roll out of Noale iin about 20 minutes. They's currently making their way to the podium at the moment and there is plenty of arm and leg warmers with the rain coming down.
Team Sky have gone for diamond tread tyre for the rain today. The mechanics told Cyclingnews that they've opted to lower the pressure by a bar but that is more for psychological reasons than necessity. The riders feel like they have much more grip with the lower pressure but due to the different compound of the diamond tyre the one-bar drop equates to just a one per cent increase in grip.
Riders continue to make their way onto the sign-on podium, we have riders from Sku. IAm Cycling, Tinkoff and Trek on stage.
Vincenzo Nibali was up on stage a little while ago. He was talking to Davide Cassani before he went to sign on and now he is making his way through the fans and signing autographs.
All the jersey wearers are on the line. Bob Jungel's pink jersey is wrapped under his rain jacket. Andre Greipel and Damiano Cunego have just opted for arm warmers. Davide Formolo is in the white jersey, as he keeps it warm for Jungels who leads the competition.
Diego Ulissi won his second stage of this year's race, getting away in a move with Andre Amador and race leader Bob Jungels. This is how it ended on stage 11 and you can find the full report, results and highlights here.
1 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - Merida 4:56:32
2 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team
3 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step
4 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:13
5 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF
6 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step
7 Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre - Merida
8 Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
9 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
10 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
The riders have rolled out of Noale and we should have some racing action in the next 10 minutes.
Remember you can also follow today's stage with our Tour Tracker app. You can download it on iTunes or Google Play here.
Newly retired Yaroslav Popovych is working as a DS for Trek Segafredo during the Giro d'Italia. Here he is getting in some last-minute sushi before the stage started.
There shouldn't be any changes to the overall classification today but this is the Giro d'Italia so who knows. Bob Jungels leads the overall standings but Andre Amador took two seconds out of him in yesterday's stage. This is how things look this morning.
1 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step 45:16:20
2 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 0:00:24
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:07
4 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:01:09
6 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 0:02:01
7 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha 0:02:25
8 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge 0:02:43
9 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:02:45
10 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - Merida 0:02:47
The flag has dropped and the racing is underway. Yesterday, the stage started at break-neck speed and it took a long time for the break to make it. How quickly will they be able to get away today?
Andre Greipel is a big favourite for today's stage after dominating the most recent sprints. He confirmed earlier today that he would be on his way home after today's stage so can he close his Giro d'Italia with a third stage win? Here is what he had to say:
"Yesterday, we knew that the final would be too hard for the sprinters. We wanted to keep Maxime, Tim and Jelle in the front as good as possible and that turned out well. Today, we need to cover the flattest stage in this year’s Giro. We aim for another stage win, but therefore we’ll have to race wisely.
The break may not contain too many riders as it will be hard to control the race if that’s the case. We need to be attentively at the front of the peloton, especially when we enter the final laps. Each local lap contains sixteen corners so the positioning will be extremely important. I only thought about this stage since my last victory. It will be my final stage though; tonight I go home.”
While it is pan-flat today, the finish is far from simple with two laps of a very technical course in Bibione. The riders will complete two laps, which will allow them a look at the finish before the real deal. That could be crucial with a tight right-hand bend just meters before the line. Whoever comes out in front after that corner will be in the driving seat for the victory. This is what that finishing course looks like.
We have attacks coming already and it seems Daniel Oss is at the head of affairs at the moment on his own. He did have Matteo Trentin for company but the Etixx-QuickStep rider was brought back. Trentin is keen to lap up as many points in the intermediate sprints as he targets the red jersey.
We mentioned Andre Greipel as a strong contender for victory but there are a few more. After his teammate took victory yesterday, Sacha Modolo could continue the run for Lampre-Merida. The Italian does well in technical finishes such as these. Caleb Ewan is still in the race and without a victory as is Giacomo Nizzolo and Arnaud Demare. Luka Mezgec could be an outside bet for Giant-Alpecin as could Leigh Howard for IAM Cycling.
As the wearer of the maglia rosa, Bob Jungels was in big demand at the start this afternoon. Here he is with a couple of young fans.
Sorry, earlier I said that Luka Mezgec was riding for Giant-Alpecin, he is of course riding for Orica-GreenEdge this year. He could still be an outside bet should Ewan be out of it at the finish.
After 19km, Oss is still on his lonesome at 2:48 ahead of the peloton. He's got Mirco Maestri (Bardiani) hot on his tail at 37 seconds back and Alexandr Kolobnev (Gazprom-Rusvelo) at 1:28 back.
We have one non-starter for today's stage and that is Valerio Agnoli, who was involved in that late crash yesterday. Another man who was involved, but who is carrying on regardless, was Evgeni Petrov. The Tinkoff rider suffered a dislocation of his AC joint. Read that and more in our latest edition of shorts.
It looks like Maestri has managed to catch Oss and the pair now have 3:04 on the peloton. Kolobnev is losing ground on the two and is almost two minutes back.
The escapees are closing in on the town of Mira, which hosted stage 12 of the 1989 Giro d'Italia where Mario Cipolini won the first of his 42 stage wins.
Bob Jungels put on a great performance yesterday to chase down Andre Amador and keep hold of his place in the pink jersey. Jungels is riding his first season with Etixx-QuickStep after transferring from Trek Segafredo over the winter. Cyclingnews editor Daniel Benson tracked the move that could well be the transfer of the season.
After trying to chase down the leaders for the last 15km, Kolobnev is finally reeled in by the bunch. We now just have two our front with a lead of four minutes.
With a bunch sprint expected, it looks like that will be the day's breakaway as the peloton sit up and save their legs for what will be a fast and furious finish. Keep your predictions coming in on twitter and we'll post them here.
If you need something to keep yourself this afternoon why not watch the latest episode of inCycle with interviews from Marcel Kittel, Tom Dumoulin, Pippo Pozatto, Matteo Trentin and many more.
Here is the scene at the finish line, as you can see there are grey clouds overhead.
131km remaining from 182km
The bunch wasn't happy with the four-minute break and they have pulled it back to 2:18. There may be a few more teams interested in making the juncture to the two leaders.
It is Lotto-Soudal that is leading the bunch at the moment so perhaps they are worried about giving someone such as Oss a little too much space.
The average speed over the first hour of racing was 43.3kph it's slower than yesterday's extremely fast start but quick nonetheless.
Rai Radio reporting that there is a bit of wind out there, which will make life for the escapees just that little bit harder. Here is a shot of the breakaway in all their rain finery.
The gap to the escapees has leveled out now at 2:10. Lotto-Soudal seems much happier with this arrangement.
A lonely looking sight. The two race leaders passing through Mogliano courtesy of Twitter user @enricostecca
If you missed any of yesterday's action, we have highlights of stage 11 here and we'll have highlights of every stage of the Giro d'Italia so make sure to subscribe to our YouTube page so you don't miss a single video.
With Greipel set to depart after today's stage the lead of the points competition is of course up for grabs. Arnaud Demare is in second place but Diego Ulissi is within touching distance after his win today. This is how things stood at the start of the day.
1 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal 119 pts
2 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ 103
3 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - Merida 100
4 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 97
5 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 82
6 Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre - Merida 66
7 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step 64
8 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 57
9 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step 52
10 Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Bardiani CSF 47
It's a case of tit for tat between the breakaway and the peloton. The gap grew back out to 2:45 but has now dipped towards the two-minute mark.
After turning professional in 2009, Daniel Oss is certainly the most experienced of the two escapees. The 29-year-old has been with BMC for the past four seasons after beginning his career with Liquigas. He has not yet won a Giro d'Italia stage but came close in 2013 when he finished second to Ramunas Navardauskas in Vajont on stage 11.
In contrast to Oss, Mirco Maestri is in his first season as a professional and, obviously, riding his first Grand Tour. He's had a very busy start to his career with 40 race days already this season, including a start at Milan-San Remo.
99km remaining from 182km
Gazprom are doing some work at the front of the bunch. They had Kolobnev trying to get into the break earlier on but were too late to react to Oss' initial move. Perhaps they are looking to nullify this move or this is all just to get some TV coverage. Whatever the reason, Lotto-Soudal will be happy to let them take their turn. As they dip under the 100km to go mark the gap is down to 1:47.
There is no letting off from the rain. It continues to hammer down on the riders. It is expected to keep raining right up to the finish, which will make the finishing circuit that much harder.
If you haven't done it already, you can also follow the Giro d'Italia on the Cyclingnews Tour Tracker app. You can download it here.
90km remaining from 182km
The average speed has dropped a little bit after the second hour of racing. It is now 41.1kph.
The two leaders are approaching the intermediate sprint with a gap of 2:29. With just two of them here, there will be points up for grabs in the peloton.
86km remaining from 182km
Maarten Tjallingii has gone off the front of the peloton. He wants the points at the intermediate sprint but FDJ are chasing him down.
It was Nizzolo that won the battle for the intermediate sprint back in the peloton. Trentin was behind with Demare fading to third, but neither of those two taking points. Daniel Oss took the full complement in the breakaway.
Earlier this week, Team Sky lost their best placed rider Mikel Landa after he fell ill. Sky and the Giro d'Italia have had a mixed relationship over the years and we plotted that history from their debut in 2010 right up to this year. You can read it here.
An interesting little graphic from @measuredeffort plotting the changing places of the top 5. We can expect this to move around much more int he coming days.
The riders are in the feed zone at the moment. Oss and Maestri have 2:23 on the peloton.
One of our reporters in Bibione, Stephen Farrand, tells us that organisers were considering neutralising today's highly technical finale given today's wet weather. Thankfully, it is drying up and there should be no issues by the time the riders hit town.
Riders are still taking on a bit of food and everyone looks relaxed in the bunch. Wet weather gear still on for now.
The gap comes down to 1:30 now on a long straight road. The sprinters' teams won't want to make the catch too early here. They'll be quite happy to see this one string out until more like 20km before we hit the finishing circuit.
The gap goes back out now and pushes up towards 2:30. Lampre prominent at the head of the peloton.
It might be May but that doesn't mean we can't have a dose of transfer gossip. Here's our story on Astana's Diego Rosa, who has opened talks with a number of teams.
Maestri's legs look like they're spinning rapidly when you look at Oss's comparatively slow churning of a bigger gear. Both ticking along nicely at the moment on what is a miserable - and ultimately - doomed venture.
We're coming up to the second intermediate sprint point. Our two leaders will mop up the bulk of the points but we may still see some interest from the sprinters in the bunch behind.
Oss leads through the sprint point, Maestri doesn't contest.
The bunch come through now, and it's Giacomo Nizzolo who takes it from the bunch, though it's far from a keenly contested affair. Trentin was second while Demare, who was so keen to take points yesterday, is a couple of places back and shakes his head.
So, there we go. The sprints are done. Soon the riders will turn right and head towards the coast, when thoughts will start to turn to that finishing circuit.
The gap has plummeted - thanks in part to that intermediate sprint - and the leading duo now have just over half a minute.
The layers are starting to come off as the conditions dry up. That means we see the pink jersey of Bob Jungels.
News coming in from our reporters at the Giro d'Italia. The times for the peloton will be taken at the first passage of the line. There will also be no bonus seconds taken on the line. That means the GC riders won't have to fight it out on that last lap.
36km remaining from 182km
Not long left for the two riders out front, who have just 41 seconds on the chasing peloton.
Movistar, Etixx-QuickStep and Lotto-Soudal are all doing work on the front at the moment.
Riders losing touch with the peloton all the time as the pace continues to ramp up. Cannondale move towards the front with Rigoberto Uran at the back of their train. They want to keep the Colombian out of trouble after he crashed a few days ago.
22km remaining from 182km
The two escapees have been brought back by the peloton and it's gruppo compatto as they're about to enter the finishing circuit.
Lotto-Soudal have taken things up again as they hit the circuit. They're stringing it out, which is the best way to ride such a technical finish.
There is a moto ont he front of the bunch trying to indicate where all the turns are. This is a veritable maze of corners for the peloton to contend with.
15km remaining from 182km
Two laps to go in this finishing circuit and the GC times will be taken at the next passage of the line.
A problem for Pozzato, he has a puncture and has to pull over for a wheel change.
Lotto-Soudal are really putting in a big stint at the front. Giant-Alpecin are just behind them. They've got Nikias Arndt in their team. Caleb Ewan and his Orica-GreenEdge team are also to the fore.
Lampre-merida are also trying to move up the bunch. They've got Sacha Modolo who should do well in this tricky finish.
11km remaining from 182km
It's stage winner Tim Wellens on the front for Lotto-Soudal. They've got three men left for Greipel.
Movistar's Rojas is trying to infiltrate the Lotto-Soudal move. He is keeping Valverde safe but will he try something in the sprint?
This is pretty much a team time trial effort from Lotto-Soudal. They've got more men up front now and with less than 10km to go they've got five men in front of Greipel.
8km remaining from 182km
Last lap for the riders and the GC riders can relax.
Lotto-Soudal push on, there is no letting up for them as the GC riders begin to filter back down the peloton. They don't have to worry about losing any time now and the bunch has drastically reduced.
6km remaining from 182km
Lampre have formed their train behind Lotto, happy to let the Belgian team to put int he work on this final lap.
Can't see any sign of FDJ near the front or Arnaud Demare.
3km remaining from 182km
IAM Cycling are up there, they're likely to be pulling for Leigh Howard.
Some elbows between Ferrari and Trek as he tries to get Modolo up to the front. He lost his sprinter for a little while there.
2km remaining from 182km
It was a few riders back and it looks like it was a Nippo Vini Fantini rider. None of the favourites appear to have been caught out.
Greipel still has three teammates but he's got Ewan on his wheel.
Flamme rouge and Mohoric moves to the front
Only 20 riders in this finishing group. Two riders left for Greipel.
Greipel leads it out
Greipel wins ahead of Ewan
Ewan tried to come around Greipel but there was no space by the barriers for the small Australian.
Lotto-Soudal played that perfectly and Greipel takes his third victory at this year's Giro d'Italia.
The GC riders come across the line a few minutes back with maglia rosa Bob Jungels safe in the bunch.
It was a good effort by Ewan in that sprint but there was nothing he could do to beat Greipel. He tried to go up the inside but didn't have the pace and then the big German closed the door on him.
Andre Greipel crossing the line for his third victory.
This was how things ended today
1 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal 04:16:00
2 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
3 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
4 Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre - Merida
5 Alexander Porsev (Rus) Team Katusha
6 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
7 Ivan Savitskiy (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo
8 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
9 Rick Zabel (Ger) BMC Racing Team
10 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF
Here are the overall standings after that stage
1 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step 49:32:20
2 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 00:00:24
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:01:07
4 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 00:01:09
6 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 00:02:01
7 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha 00:02:25
8 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge 00:02:43
9 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step 00:02:45
10 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - Merida 00:02:47
It was a very difficult finale today and Matteo Trentin expressed his frustration at it, calling the finish dangerous.
"A dangerous finale, very narrow roads, and lots of bends. Nobody is really interested in the rider’s safety and their lives.
"It was ok for the GC riders but what about the sprinters, it’s always dangerous. Maybe we should be planning some easier or safer finishes. Most bends are ok but maybe some wider roads."
This is what stage winner Andre Greipel said before stepping onto the podium.
“It was already quite strong of the team to keep me there at the front and still be there for the leadout. It was amazing to follow the wheels of my teammates today. The plan was Jurgen Roelandts would hit the last corner first, and leave a little bit of a gap and then I could accelerate in his slipstream. It worked out really good. I wanted to do the sprint from the corner and I’m happy that it worked out like that.
Leaving the Giro d’Italia: “My season is full of goals and of course I’m not happy to pull out of the Giro with he red jersey. But the team and myself have made the decision to go home, to leave the Giro today, and prepare for the upcoming goals.”
Bob Jungels on the podium to take another maglia rosa. He will get at least one more day in the pink jersey.
A close look at the sprint with 50 metres to go.
Greipel takes the red jersey today but with the German heading home this evening it will be passing it on to someone else.
Tomorrow is the first of the big mountain stages. This is what the riders can expect to face and it is no wonder some of the sprinters are going home this evening.