The 12th stage of the Giro d’Italia ended in a mass sprint with Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) taking the victory, his 3rd at this year’s edition of the race. Caleb Ewan (Orica-Greenedge) finished in 2nd place and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Segafredo) rounded out the podium. Bob Jungels (Etixx-Quickstep) had no problem keeping the overall leader’s jersey.
With today’s stage being almost pancake flat but still 187km long, nearly every team knew today would end in a mass sprint. With this understanding, only 2 riders jumped into the break of the day almost knowing they were doomed in terms of a stage result. The stage was made rather difficult by the weather though as riders had to deal with continuous bursts of rain for the opening 130km’s of the stage.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s main focus was firstly to stay safe in the peloton, protect our GC riders and possibly deliver Kristian Sbaragli to the finish for the sprint. Our Italian sprinter has been struggling with a bit of bronchitis the last few days but he was keen to give the finale a try today. Jay Thomson, Johann van Zyl and Jaco Venter were all seen on the front of the peloton in the build up to the sprint as they kept Sbaragli safe and in contention for the sprint.
The race finished with an 8km circuit in Bibione that had to be completed twice. The two early breakaway riders were caught by the Lotto-Soudal led peloton even before the local laps began and a good crowd was treated to a criterium style finish. The times for the overall race were also taken with 1 lap to go so the GC contenders could ride the final 8km in safety as the sprinters battled it out for the stage win.
Lotto-Soudal had the dominant team over the technical circuit and delivered Greipel to another win. It was just a small group that contested the sprint in the end though and despite Sbaragli not being 100% he was in the mix, but would not finish with a top result today by crossing the line 18th. Kanstantsin Siutsou had no problems out on the road and also maintained his 16th place on GC.
Jean Pierre Heynderickx – Sport Director
On paper it was a pure sprinters stage and we have a sprinter here, Kristian. He is sick, he has had bronchitis for two days so we had one goal, to bring Kristian to a good position to sprint but it’s not easy if you have to bring a sick rider to try and make a result. The 2nd thing was to keep our GC riders, Kanstantsin and Igor Anton in a good position, especially with the bad weather. There was some crosswind and a local lap of 8km with 14 turns in, so it was dangerous in the peloton as some splits could happen and you lose seconds but in the end we kept our GC riders in a good position and Kristian was fighting in the sprint.