Giro 2018 Stage 12: Sam Bennett hits top gear at rain soaked Imola

Sam Bennett delivered victory number two for BORA-hansgrohe in spectacular fashion. The Irishman looked full of confidence in a chaotic, windswept and wet finale, chasing down a bold move from Carlos Betancur and Matej Mohric in the final 500m before opening the after burners to scorch past them and leave his sprint rivals trailing in his wake. Danny van Poppel and a fast finishing Niccolo Bonifazio rounded out the podium. The GC contenders were relieved to get through a tricky stage without mishap and the top ten remains the same.

Rider of the Race

The award so very nearly went to Movistar’s Carlos Betancur for surprising me with an attack-like-he-meant-it-moment. However, there was something extraordinary about the victory today and I can’t ignore it, so for the second time this Giro step forward Sam Bennett.

Embed from Getty Images

On stage 7 it was Sam’s persistence and patience that secured the win and the award. Today was a very different scenario and it took confidence and courage. Biblical amounts of rain made for a very nervous finale and BORA did a fantastic job keeping their sprinter at the sharp end of the action as the peloton split and regrouped numerous times. The category 4 Tre Monti climb on the finishing circuit was taken at a ferocious pace and sodden riders were spat out the back at an alarming rate. Not so Sam, he was strong and leading from the front. It was every man for himself on the sketchy descent as they chased the leading duo back onto the race track at Imola.

Mohoric and Betancur were still holding a gap as the finish line hurtled into view. The BORA fast man wasn’t prepared to wait any longer and took matters into his own hands. He took a sling shot from the EF Pinkies, shot through gears to overhaul the duo and engaged the turbo for a looooong twenty seconds (ouch) to take the chequered flag – it could only have been more perfect if there had actually been one.

It was pure power, it was a gamble that paid off and how very fitting for a victory at Imola.

We still had two guys in front. I didn’t know how much energy they had left, but I didn’t want another stage getting away from me, so I decided to go early. I didn’t know if I could hold it or not. I think I caught some guys by surprise, so it worked to my advantage.  The guys did an unbelievable job today, especially in the final kilometres. The victory wouldn’t have happened without them, today was a real team effort.

LOVE how BORA-hansgrohe teamsters Christophe Pfingsten and Patrick Konrad celebrate this win with identical salutes.

Oh and Sam – the ice creams are on Mr Sean Kelly. Mine’s a Tutti Frutti please.

What about the maglia ciclamino Midge?

Quickstepper Elia Viviani had a jours sans. On the wrong side of a split with 30km to go, the Italian caught back on only to be dropped again as they reached Imola the first time round. There was obviously some miscommunication in the QS ranks as he was without a teammate while they were riding on the front. He certainly cut a sad and bedraggled sight riding alone at the finish and on the podium later. With the Italian out of the final he remains on a total of 184 points with Bennett closing fast on on 162. Stage 13 could be another for the sprinters – perhaps their last chance before Rome. It’s all to play for.

Tweets that caught my eye…

You’re never far away from cycling’s history in Italy.

It’s a work of art but I wouldn’t like to ride it over the cobbles.

Peloton stage reports

It was a sprint, just not the one we were expecting.

Full stage report from Cycling News

Stage results

1 Sam Bennett (BORA-hansgrohe) 4:49:34

2 Danny van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo) same time

3 Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida) s/t

4 Baptiste Planckaert (Katusha-Alpecin) s/t

5 Jurgen Roelandts (BMC) same time

GC Top 10

1 Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 51:57:55

2 Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) +0:47

3 Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) +1:04

4 Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) +1:18

5 Richard Carapaz (Movistar) +1:56

6 George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) +2:09

7 Rohan Dennis (BMC) +2:36

8 Pello Bilbao (Astana) +2:54

9 Patrick Konrad (Bora-hansgrohe) +2:55

10 Fabio Aru (UAE-Emirates) +3:10

All the jerseys

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Leader’s jersey: Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)

Points jersey: Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors)

KOM jersey: Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)

Best young rider: Richard Carapaz (Movistar)

For full review of the stage, go to Cycling News

Header image: Sam Bennett wins© LUK BENIES/AFP/Getty Images

 

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