Andrea Vendrame came out on top from the breakaway on stage 12 of the Giro d'Italia 2021 after putting in multiple attacks to make the selection on the final climb before outsprinting Chris Hamilton to the line.
Vendrame (Ag2r-Citroën) and Hamilton (DSM) managed to kick away from an arguing George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) and Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo) who fought it out for third on the day.
Behind, Giulio Ciccone and Vincenzo Nibali (both Trek-Segafredo) left it till mid-way up the final climb to start trying their moves. Nibali then went on the final descent which put a lot of pressure on Ineos Grenadiers and the pink jersey of Egan Bernal.
The day started quickly with numerous riders trying to get up into the day's breakaway but Ineos Grenadiers and other general classification teams controlled who they allowed up the road.
Once a break did get away the pace slackened and the break went away to battle for the stage with four riders making the selection on the final climb of the day before battling it out for the victory.
Bernal kept pink, only losing a handful of seconds to Nibali as the GC riders looked to get some energy back in the legs after stage 11's brutal gravel stage.
How it happened
The 12th stage of the Giro d’Italia 2021 started in the city of Siena before tackling the Tuscan hills and crossing into Emilia Romagna, with the finish in Bagno di Romagna after 212km.
Numerous riders tried to get up the road early on with a group of 16 riders eventually going clear after yet another long ride before the peloton allowed the break to go. They eventually pulled out a gap of around 12 minutes on the Ineos Grenadiers-led peloton.
Those riders were Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), Giovanni Visconti (Bardiani), Guy Niv (Israel Start-Up Nation), George Bennett, Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix), Simone Petilli (Intermarché), Gianluca Brambilla, Mikkel Honoré (Deceuninck - Quick-Step), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka-Assos), Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa), Chris Hamilton, Natnael Tesfatsion, Simone Ravanelli (both Androni), Geoffrey Bouchard, and Vendrame (both Ag2r-Citroën).
Once the break went away the pace completely went out of the peloton with Ineos controlling. The race was then, unfortunately, a day that saw multiple abandons due to crashes and other issues.
Marc Soler (Movistar), Alessandro De Marchi, Alex Dowsett (both Israel Start-Up Nation), Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck - Quick-Step), and Kobe Goossens (Lotto-Soudal) all left the race with injuries or illness.
As the race hit the main climbs of the day the break did actually break down for a short time with just the one rider who was dropped in the end. That was Campenaerts as the weather caught out some riders while putting on jackets with the Belgian dropping back into the peloton.
The rain really came down on the second categorised climb of the day with around 80km to go. The weather did luckily improve over the third of four climbs with Honoré going attacking to try and potentially solo to victory but he was caught by the other riders with 34km to go.
The wet descents seem to be the roads that caused the most damage, especially in the break with riders regularly getting dropped by those more confident with the fast pace and removing rain jackets on the go.
As the break started the final climb up the Passo del Carnaio the sun blazed out of the clouds yet again. Brambilla was the first to hit out on the climb which split the break to pieces. Brambilla then kicked a second time with Hamilton attempting to bridge back to him.
Bennett, Edet, and Visconti managed to bridge to Hamilton, Vendrame, and Brambilla before Ravenelli and Bouchard got back on, only to be distanced almost immediately. Bennett countered before Vendrame hit over the top and distanced the entire group on a brief descent before kicking up to the top of the climb with 17km to go, but only with a six-second gap.
Hamilton then tried a dig to bridge to Vendrame up front with 14km to go. He quickly built a gap on Bennett and Brambilla and bridged over to the leading Italian as they came to another descent before the climb topped out.
Bennett used the momentum from the descent to kick across the gap with Brambilla following well, making it four at the front yet again with 12km to go. This saw the pace slacken again with riders having various tentative moves to try and get away. They were all together over the top of the climb.
Giulio Ciccone decided that he wanted to try and gain some time as he went on the attack with his Trek-Segafredo team-mate Vincenzo Nibali bridging to him and attempting to pace him up the climb.
Gianni Moscon was the first Ineos Grenadiers to get to the Trek duo before the pink jersey of Egan Bernal closed the gap with Ineos retaking control of the peloton.
Back at the front of the race, Bennett was descending like a demon, gapping the rest of the riders as the roads went from dry to wet in dappled sunlight. But as the road straightened out and flattened they came back together.
Brambilla and Bennett were marking each other out, losing a small gap to Hamilton and Vendrame on the final straight road that led to the finish. Australian Hamilton then attacked with Vendrame in the final 3km before the Italian countered over the top of Hamilton with 2km to go.
Hamilton did manage to drag himself back just before the final kilometre with Vendrame leading through the final few hundred metres. He kicked off his sprint first and managed to hold the lead all the way to the line.
Bernal holds onto the overall lead for yet another day as the peloton heads to a pan-flat stage for the 13th day of the Giro, which starts in Ravenna before taking on 198km to fair Verona where we lay our scene, or rather finish.
Giro d'Italia 2021, stage 12: Siena to Bagno di Romagna (212km)
1. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) Ag2r-Citroën Team, in 5-43-48
2. Chris Hamilton (Aus) Team DSM, at same time
3. George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma, at 15s
4. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at same time
5. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè, at 1-12
6. Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) Ag2r-Citroën Team, at 1-25
7. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, at 1-47
8. Simone Petilli (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, at same time
9. Mikkel Honoré (Den) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 3-00
10. Simone Ravanelli (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, at 4-19
General classification after stage 12
1. Egan Bernal (Col) Ineos Grenadiers, in 48-29-23
2. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech, at 45s
3. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious, at 1-12
4. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Education-Nippo, at 1-17
5. Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange, at 1-22
6. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1-50
7. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 2-22
8. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 2-24
9. Tobias Foss (Nor) Team Jumbo-Visma, at 2-49
10. Daniel Martínez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers, at 3-15
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