TEAM Alpecin-Fenix’s Stefano Oldani of Italy celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the 12th stage of the Giro d’Italia, a 204km distance from Parma to Genoa, on Thursday.—AFP
TEAM Alpecin-Fenix’s Stefano Oldani of Italy celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the 12th stage of the Giro d’Italia, a 204km distance from Parma to Genoa, on Thursday.—AFP

GENOA: Italy’s Stefano Oldani claimed his first professional win after a sprint finish on stage 12 of the Giro d’Italia on Thursday as Spaniard Juan Pedro Lopez held the leader’s pink jersey.

Oldani was too fast for compatriot Lorenzo Rota and Dutch rider Gijs Leemreize over the final 100m after being part of a long breakaway on the longest stage of the race over 204km from Parma north to Genoa.

For Oldani this was a first professional win on a day when he joined the breakaway group to help his Alpecin team leader Mathieu van der Poel.

“When I realised that I’d won a stage on the Giro there was a wave of emotion that I couldn’t hold back,” said the 24-year-old after making it two stage wins in a row for the hosts.

“I wanted it so badly.” The race was conducted at breakneck speed with 53km covered in the first hour, the winner crossing the finish line 30 minutes ahead of even the fastest prediction.

Giro rookie Lopez held the race lead for a ninth day in the pink jersey thanks to the Spaniard’s win on an escape to Mount Etna on stage 4.

“Luckily the weather conditions are my favourites, like at my home in south of Spain,” Lopez said after a sizzling day in the saddle.

“Nine days in the Maglia Rosa is a lot! But I wouldn’t mind some more.” Less than 20 seconds separate a clutch of potential Giro winners with Richard Carapaz of Ineos Grenadiers, Mikel Landa of Bahrain Victorious and Romain Bardet of DSM the most credible candidates.

It was an astonishing day for Wilco Kelderman too as the Dutchman dragged himself back into the overall reckoning by gaining eight minutes as part of the escape to make up for his meltdown on the Blockhaus mountain last Sunday.

Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan left the Giro empty handed Thursday when he became the 14th rider so far to drop out.

Ewan fell on day one and failed to add to his five stage wins here on previous editions.

On Thursday, the Giro remembered Belgian sprinter Wouter Weylandt as it crossed the Apennine Mountains after he died on the race on the descent of the Passo del Bocco in 2011.

Friday’s stage 13 is a largely flat 150km run from San Remo to Cuneo, where a sprint finish is the most likely outcome.

Over the weekend Saturday’s treacherous hilly stage should shake-up the standings while Sunday’s mountain climb is a the slog to a summit finish at over 1500m at Cogne in the Aosta Valley north of Turin.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2022

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