Stage profile: A rolling day with four categorised climbs, with the last the third category climb of Villa Cassani which leads into a tricky downhill then flat run to the finish in Sestri Levante. The undulating profile favours a successful breakaway.
Top three: 1.Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol), 2. Sandy Casar (FDJ-BigMat) +0:11, 3. Andrey Amador (Movistar) same time.
Who was in the breakaway?: It took 50km for a break to establish itself, but when it did it contained Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol), Sandy Casar (FDJ-BigMat), Andrey Amador (Movistar), Ivan Santaromita (BMC), Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Michal Golas (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Nissan), Jackson Rodriguez (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) and Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil-DCM). [What, again?!? – Ed.] The gap went up to seven minutes at one point.
How the stage was won: After a number of attacks on the final obstacle of the day and a predictable spot of cat-and-mouse, Bak soloed away from his breakmates inside the final 2km into the beautiful Ligurian coastal town of Sestri Levante to record his maiden Giro victory. Runner-up Casar, at one point the virtual maglia rosa, grabbed valuable bonus seconds but Liquigas worked hard enough to close down the gap and prevent him taking pink, though he was voted most combative rider [scant consolation – Ed]. Despite the threats from Casar and Santaromita – now respectively third and fifth overall – Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) continues to look pretty in pink.
Quotes of the day: Orica-GreenEDGE directeur sportif Matt White described his surprise at the fast start to the stage, where the peloton averaged 55kph for the first 45 minutes:
I say today is about conserving energy, but the race was warp speed to start.
Lars Bak said after the race:
This is by far the biggest win of my career. On the climbs I was certainly not the strongest, so I was saving my strength for the last 10km. That tactic has brought me an incredible victory. I want to thank the team that once again I have my own chances to ride. In the past I was often in teams where I had a lot of support work for others.
Odd occurrences: Spare a thought for Vacansoleil’s Tomasz Marczynski who finished on his own 36:05 down and was judged to be outside the time limit.
VeloVoices rider of the stage: Sandy Casar, who notched up his 18th second place today and had Eurosport’s French commentators frothing at the prospect of a Frenchman in pink – the last was Laurent Jalabert in 1999.
1. Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) 51:19:08
2. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) +0:17
3. Sandy Casar (FDJ-BigMat) +0:26
4. Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) +0:32
5. Ivan Santaromita (BMC) +0:49
Points leader: Mark Cavendish (Sky).
King of the Mountains leader: Michal Golas (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).
Tomorrow: Stage 13 – Savona to Cervere, 121km. This short stage should be the last day for many of the sprinters, with several likely to trade in a weekend in the mountains for the airport and the comforts of home, so expect the breakaway to be given short shrift. The inevitable bunch sprint will require some hard work though, as the first 30km or so is uncomfortably steep for the sprinters, but thereafter it should all come back together for Messrs Cavendish, Goss and friends [and non-friends such as Roberto Ferrari – Ed].
Link: Official website