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Giro d'Italia 2019: UAE-Team Emirates retain pink as breakaway wins by huge margin on Stage 12

Joe Robinson
23 May 2019

Jan Polanc takes pink from teammate Conti as GC riders stretch their legs on Giro d'Italia's first mountain; Benedetti wins the stage

Bora-Hansgrohe's Cesare Benedetti took the first professional victory of his career as UAE-Team Emirates's tactic to put Jan Polanc in the day's break paid off as he took the Maglia Rosa from the shoulders of his teammate Valerio Conti.

Benedetti launched his sprint in the final stages after catching the leading trio of Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo), Erop Cappechi (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Eddie Dunbar (Team Ineos) within site of the line. The Italian had been dropped on the final climb of the Muro San Maurizio but proved strong enough to chase back on.

As for the favourites on General Classification, the biggest loser was Bob Jungles (Deceuninck-QuickStep) who was the highest profile name not to make the selection on the day's only climb, eventually conceding a minute to his rivals.

The biggest winners were Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) and Mikel Landa (Movistar) who both took a handful of seconds away from their rivals having made an attack stick from 30km out.

Tomorrow, the race will return to the mountains with the Giro's first ever ascent of the fearsome Colle del Nivolet.

The day the mountain came

Wake up from your 11 stage slumber, the flat stages are over and it is time for the 2019 Giro d'Italia to hit the mountains. The first stage to race skywards was Stage 12 from Cuneo to Pinerolo, a 158km ride north through Italy's Piedmont region. 

The big test would be the Montoso, an 8.8km climb at 9.5% with large waves of the climb averaging in excess of 10%. It would be hard but being 30km from the finish unlikely to cause huge gaps in the fight for pink.

Where the stage was likely to be decided was on the Muro San Maurizio, a 500m cobbled climb at 13.2% with a maximum gradient of 20% just 2km from the finish line. It was also due to be scaled at 55km to go.

What the climb's positioning did guarantee was the likelihood of a large breakaway and that was exactly what happened as 26 riders from a whole host of teams managed to escape up the road almost from the gun.

Of note in the break was diesel engine Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) and Irish duo Dunbar and Connor Dunne (Israel Cycling Academy). 

The best-placed rider on GC in the break happened to be Polanc, a teammate of the day's opening pink jersey, Conti. With that the case, the breakaway riders were allowed to build a sizeable lead that quickly grew to 15 minutes, enough of a gap to give Polanc the virtual race lead by over 10 minutes.

The very fact the large break were so far ahead pulled Jumbo-Visma into action who assumed the role as lead chasers for the day.

The Montoso climb proved tough for the break quickly whittling them down from 26 to six with most of the climb still to race, while the peloton was brought to life as Lopez attacked taking the likes of Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Richard Carapaz (Movistar) with him.

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) held stock initially but then Landa attacked next with Lopez following the Basque rider as it began to get loose among the favourites. This Spanish-speaking duo made a temporary alliance to escape a reduced bunch of favourites towards the peak of the climb. 

Nibali and Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) were the next to take up the attacking duties although their efforts came to nothing. By the line, the stage was to be contested between the trio of Brambilla, Cappechi and Dunbar, or so we thought.