George Bennett tried to go for victory on stage 12 of the Giro d'Italia but a tactical battle with Italian rider Gianluca Brambilla saw the New Zealander eventually finish third.
Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) came to the race as the leader of his team, but poor performances in the cold and wet weather in the first week saw him slip out of contention.
The New Zealand national champion is now on the quest of hunting for stages with the big mountains looming, but is still trying to get used to the tactics of winning from the breakaways having normally ridden amongst the peloton.
Speaking after the stage, Bennett said: “Stage hunting and breakaways, it's not normally what I'm doing. I'm sort of normally just riding from the peloton and maybe it takes a while to get the feel of that a little bit and I think as we hit into the big mountains it's more about legs than say, playing the game or tactics and cat and mouse and all that sort of stuff, so I mean hopefully there's a bit more for me.”
Bennett managed fourth originally on stage 12 behind eventual winner Andrea Vendrame (Ag2r-Citroën), with Chris Hamilton (DSM) and Brambilla taking the final podium spots. But Brambilla was relegated to fourth for a deviation in his sprint, moving Bennett up to third.
Brambilla let the wheel of Hamilton and Vendrame go in the closing kilometres to try and force Bennett through to do some work in the break, which Bennett didn't want to do as he was the rider with the slowest sprint. Hamilton saw this and used it to his advantage attacking with Vendrame with the two holding on to the finish.
Bennett then went to chase with Brambilla sitting on his wheel all the way until the sprint where the Italian kicked to the line, but he moved dramatically causing the race jury to move him down to fourth on the day.
“I can't close everything and I'm not gonna win the sprint, so I have to gamble and I really can't understand [what Brambilla did]," Bennet said.
"If I was a fast guy, I would’ve ridden that differently. You just cover everything and try and go for the sprint, but if you're 58 kilos and struggling to break 1000 Watts then what's the point in taking it to a sprint.
“It was the same on the climb, you know, unfortunately we had quite a big headwind and you can go as many times as you'd like but if everybody's looking at your wheel there's not a lot you can do."
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