Lars Bak won the 12th stage of the Giro d'Italia with a clinical display of tactical nous, ditching his breakaway companions 1300m from the finish line. In doing so, he picked up his first non-TT or TTT win in years.
Today's stage was a climby but not overly mountainous affair, run over up the coastline in the Cinque Terre region. Four categorized climbs were on tap after a flattish beginning - categories 4, 3, 2, and 3 respectively - with the final climb summitting 11km from the finish. As the prospects for a breakaway looked good, attacks flew left and right in the first hour and it took much longer than usual for a 10-man breakaway to solidify.
Over the final climb, the break began to splinter under the impetus of Sandy Casar, who was now in the virtual maglia rosa with the peleton over four minutes in arrears. On the final descent, six riders were still in contention - Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol), Sandy Casar (FDJ - Big Mat), Jan Bakelants (Radioshack Nissan - Trek), Ivan Santaromita (BMC), Jackson Rodriguez (Androni), Amets Txurruka (Euskatel - Euskadi), and Andrey Ammador (Movistar).
As the descent leveled out, the cat and mouse games started in earnest. Attack after attack went, though none gained traction, largely due to Casar pulling the group along in hopes of snatching the overall lead. Finally, after a series of back-to-back attacks, Bak launched up the middle of the group and nobody responded immediately. Short-lived chases were put on by Txurruka and Ammador, but none were able to put a dent in the large gap Bak had carved out for himself. He was able to sit up a long way from the line and savor his victory. The timing of his attack was truly impeccable, coming immediately after almost every member of the break had attempted their own solo bids at freedom.
Behind, Casar won the sprint for second and a time bonus. However, thanks largely to the work of Liquigas, who set pace in the closing 30km of the stage, Joaquim Rodriguez holds onto his lead in the overall classification. Casar is now in third place, 26 seconds back.
- Lars Yitting Bak (LTB)
- Sandy Casar (FDJ) at 11sec
- Andrey Ammador (MOV) st
- Jan Bakelants (RNT) st
- Ivan Santaromita (BMC) st