An entertaining performance by Trek-Segafredo as Gianluca finishes 4th from the breakaway and Giulio Ciccone and Vincenzo Nibali attack the GC rivals
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.
“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!