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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, May 21, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2020 Giro d'Italia

The audiobook version of The Story of the Tour de France, Volume 1 is available.

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. - Albert Einstein

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Giro d'Italia stage 12 team reports

We posted the report from GC leader Egan Bernal's INEOS Grenadiers team with the results.

Stage winner Andrea Vendrame's Ag2r-Citroën team posted this short piece:

Andrea Vendrame: This means so much!
“This is my first victory at the Giro d’Italia and my first with AG2R CITROËN TEAM, it’s just amazing. I am Italian, and I’ve won a stage in my national tour. It’s the biggest day of my career. The first goal of the day was to take maximum points for Geoffrey in the King of the Mountain classification. Then at the end, I knew I needed to anticipate the final climb if I wanted to make the selection. I saw that I could win. When I attacked, Geoffrey spoke to me on the radio; he encouraged me. This victory is also for him. Now another Giro begins.We have won a stage, and now we will do everything we can to do it all over again.”

Andrea Vendrame

Andrea Vendrame enjoys his stage win. Sirotti photo

The number: 1
In addition to Andrea Vendrame’s stage win, we also won the team classification for the 12th stage.

The news: Bouchard in blue
Having taken 6th on the stage (his best finish this season and in the UCI WorldTour), Geoffrey Bouchard increased his lead in the King of the Mountains points. Ahead of the 13th stage, which has few difficulties, he now has 96 points. “I’m so happy with Andrea’s victory. We really get along very well and we frequently room together. Being in the breakaway gave me the chance to gain more points. Milan is a long way off, so I’ll still try.”

Here's the report from second-place Chris Hamilton's Team DSM:

The longest stage of the race so far awaited the riders this morning as they left the start in Siena, with an incredibly challenging 212 kilometre long parcours that featured over 4000 metres of climbing. There was a sense in the peloton that it could be a good stage for the breakaway to take glory and as a result it was an incredibly fast and attacking start to the race.

Numerous groups went and were brought back, with Nicholas Roche riding prominently towards the front for the team, before after almost 70 kilometres of exceptionally hard action; a group of 16 riders escaped, with Chris Hamilton riding strongly to make the split. Almost immediately, the peloton fanned across the road and the gap for those out front quickly ballooned to just over five minutes where it held steady before ultimately increasing out to a stage winning advantage.

Over the top of the Passo della Consuma with 75 kilometres to go the skies opened and torrential rain fell on top of the race. Hamilton used his good descending skills to make the front split out of the breakaway, with the group initially cutting in half to eight riders before things somewhat regrouped on the ascent of Passo della Calla. It was a case of déjà-vu as the break once again broke apart on the following descent, with Hamilton to the fore, before some riders made back on as they hit the lower slopes of the final categorised climb of the day Passo del Carnaio.

Immediately from the bottom a strong a pace was set as the break whittled down in numbers, with Hamilton showing his great climbing legs and making the initial front group. The attacks continued to fly, with Hamilton impressively closing a gap to the leader Vendrame over the top of the ascent, finding himself in the lead group of four with ten kilometres to go. The tactical games ensued with no one allowed to get clear on the descent, despite several probing attacks.

On the false flat final three kilometre run to the line, Hamilton produced a perfectly timed attack, going clear with Vendrame who quickly counter attacked. Hamilton dug deep, grinding his way back onto the Italian’s wheel and setting up a two-rider fight for the stage win. Forcing Vendrame, the faster sprinter, to the front under the flamme rouge, Hamilton played it tactically as best as he could, fighting all the way to the line in the sprint to take a brilliant second place for the team; and his first ever Grand Tour and WorldTour podium finish.

Chris Hamilton

Chris Hamilton was a close second to winner Andrea Vendrame.

“It was a pretty hard day and I think everyone was expecting to be,” smiled Hamilton at the finish. “It was the longest stage and it had the most altitude metres we’ve had at the Giro so far. We thought it would be a good opportunity to go for the breakaway. Nico Roche and I were given the green light to do that and after a massive fight I made it in. From then on it was about being as efficient as you could, not laying your cards out too early. Coming into the final with the four of us fighting for the win was pretty cool. I haven’t had so many chances for myself to go for a stage result so I’m really thankful to the team that I got the chance. Of course I would have loved to win but second in a Grand Tour, yeah, I can say I’ve been there, you know. There’s not much else I could have done and I’m really happy with the day.”

Team DSM coach Matt Winston added: “We looked at today’s stage and thought it would be a breakaway day, with maybe a fight on the last climb between the GC guys. Nico Roche and Chris were really active at the start to try and go in the break so we could go for the day result. Chris was the one that got in there. He rode pretty smart I think and looked really strong on the last climb and closed the gaps. Then in the final he tried an attack of his own, but then did a really good job to ride across to the eventual winner Vendrame. I think he rode tactically very well and second is a really good result and a nice step. Also, Romain came through the stage in a good way and I think we can really build on this.”

Here's the report from Gianluca Brambilla's Trek-Segafredo team.

Gianluca Brambilla patiently awaited his opportunity in the 104th Giro d’Italia, and that moment arrived in Stage 12 as he joined a 16-rider breakaway that formed after over an hour of intense racing.

The Ineos-led peloton was happy to let the escape group gain a massive 12 minutes, looking for a more leisurely day after a punishing Stage 11 on the white gravel roads Wednesday.

At the bottom of the final ascent of the day, a lengthy but not steep 10.8-kilometer climb, Brambilla kicked off the action, helping shave the breakaway group to four riders that tried, but could not shake each other. They crested the top together and began a fast descent followed by a flat run into the line.

The quartet continued their attacks and counter-attacks until finally Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroen) and Chris Hamilton (DSM) achieved a gap, while Brambi and George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) looked to each other to pick up the chase.

Vendrame and Hamilton pulled away and a stalemate unfolded behind.

The two exchanged words, and in the end, Bennett refused to share in the chase.

Vendrame won the stage over Hamilton while Brambilla sprinted across for 3rd. However, the jury determined he had altered his line in the sprint enough to relegate Brambi to 4th place.

George Bennett

George Bennett crossing the line fourth, but the judges moved him up to third. Sirotti photo

“The regret of not being able to play my chance for the win is strong,” explained Brambilla. “We struggled all day. The first 65kms were full gas to find the breakaway, then almost 150kms on the attack to gain enough time. Having no chance to make the sprint is a pity and makes me sorry, first for the team. We came to the Giro primarily to win the stages, and today we have lost an opportunity.

“Vendrame won with merit; in the final group, he was the fastest. I knew it, and that’s why I tried several times, uphill and downhill, to make a further selection. I rode to win the stage even though I knew I could lose. That’s how it went, and I can’t do anything but look forward to the next opportunities. The condition is good; I’ll try again.

“On the downgrading to fourth place, I accept the jury’s decision. The way I saw it unfold is this: I was in the lead, Bennett always stayed on my wheel, the finish pulled to the right, and I kept a trajectory to the left. That’s all.”

While a dramatic finish unfolded ahead, a few kilometers and some 10 minutes behind, Ciccone and Nibali tried to see if the GC rivals were in a deep enough sleep to catch them by surprise on the final climb.  Team Ineos calmed the pair before the top, but a feisty Nibali continued to push on the descent, eventually getting a gap and holding a slight advantage to the line.

There’s no denying the team delivered an entertaining race in Stage 12.  On to the next!

Team Bora-hansgrohe sent me this report:

Heading north from Siena before taking a sharp right at Florence, the Giro d’Italia started leaving the south of the country behind on its journey towards the mountains. The 212km parcours was the second longest of the race and with some tough climbs along the route – two third category and two second category – the day was going to be made that much harder as the inclement weather also made a return.

There was some undulating terrain before the proper climbs started, and in a chaotic start to the day, there were several crashes and attempts to break away that came to nothing, with Peter Sagan among those trying to get ahead to claim points in the intermediate sprint but being brought back.

Finally, after more than 50km of racing, an escape managed to make their move stick, fourteen riders putting some distance between themselves and the peloton, drawing this lead to more than eleven minutes after traversing the first two of the day’s four categorised climbs and with 50km remaining, extending to almost thirteen minutes with 10km left. It was clear the break was not going to be caught, and so it was for the GC riders to fight it out among themselves to take time, even if they couldn’t take the stage.

In the select group of GC riders, three BORA-hansgrohe riders were in the mix, with Emanuel Buchmann joined by Matteo Fabbro and Felix Grossschartner, and with the stage decided by the break and the GC group tightly controlled by the Maglia Rosa team, the bunch crossed the line, saving energy for the coming mountain stages. Emanuel remains 6th in the GC and Peter keeps hold of the ciclamino jersey of points leader.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan remains the points classification leader. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line:
"Today was a really fast start. A lot of riders tried to get into the lead group and in the end it took 60km for the group to finally form. It was a pretty controlled race overall, we were a bit unlucky with the weather, but in the end nothing bad happened and we all finished safely." – Emanuel Buchmann

"Our big goal was to defend the sprint jersey and also support Emu 100% on this tough stage. The first 60km were ridden hard and the peloton was torn apart until the leading group finally went away. We had no interest in getting into the leading group today because we wanted to guarantee Emanuel the support he needed. In the end our tactics worked out, Peter is still in the sprint jersey while Emanuel was able to remain in 6th place overall. The team did a very good job and supported Peter and Emu as much as possible." – Jens Zemke, Sports Director

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