Lars Bak wins stage 12 from the front

With only one more sprinting stage left of Giro, Joaquin Rodriguez maintains overall lead with Lars Bak claiming stage.

    Lars Bak wins stage 12 from the front
    Denmark's Lars Bak celebrates on the podium after his 12th stage victory [AFP]


    Lars Bak won the 12th stage of the Giro d'Italia and Joaquin Rodriguez retained the overall lead on Thursday.

    Bak burst away from the breakaway group with one kilometer (half a mile) to go for a clear victory on the 155-kilometer (96-mile) route from Seravezza to Sestri Levante. The Dane finished in 3 hours, 58 minutes, 55 seconds - 11 seconds ahead of second-placed Sandy Casar.

    Casar finished 3:23 ahead of Rodriguez and the rest of the peloton but it was not enough to overtake Rodriguez as the overall leader. Casar is 26 seconds behind the Spaniard, who will wear the pink jersey for the third successive day on Friday.

    Casar and Bak were at the front for most of the race after establishing a nine-man break along with Ivan Santaromita, Jackson Rodriguez, Jan Bakelants, Andrey Amador, Michal Golas, Amets Txurruka and Martijn Keizer.

    Shortly before the halfway point, the group had a lead of 2:35 on the peloton and they slowly built that up to seven minutes heading onto the main test of the day, the Category 2 Valico La Mola climb, 38 kilometers (24 miles) from the finish.

    However, Ivan Basso's Liquigas team seemed to be alert to the danger posed to the pink jersey by the breakaway group as the team came to the front of the peloton along with Michael Scarponi's Lampre and upped the pace. The gap rapidly came down.

    There were fears for Scarponi when the defending champion caught the wheel of his teammate and ran off the course. But he swiftly got up and his teammates worked hard to bring him back into the peloton.

    Almost simultaneously Bakelants skidded off on a bend and lost contact with the other escapees, but he eventually managed to get back to the breakaway group.

    The group maintained its advantage on the twisting, final Villa Tassani climb and the tricky descent. The technical 180-degree bend shortly before the finish was expected to cause problems, but Bak comfortably rode solo round it to take his first individual Giro stage.

    Meanwhile, there were two more withdrawals as William Bonnet and Mats Christensen quit before the start of the stage.

    Friday's 13th stage is the shortest leg of this year's Giro, a 121-kilometer (75-mile) ride from Savona to Cervere. It starts off with a short climb and then is largely downhill for the rest of the way. It is the last for sprinters, with the Giro taking to the Alps at the weekend.

    With just one more stage that suits them - stage 18 - several sprinters are expected to withdraw at the day's end.

    The race ends on May 27 in Milan.

    SOURCE: AP


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