There’s letting a breakaway go and then there’s letting a breakaway go. On what was supposed to be calm-before-the-storm stage of the Giro d’Italia on Thursday, with the first day in the Alps on Friday, a giant escape move turned the race on its head. When the dust had cleared, three of the four major jerseys–including the pink–had switched shoulders the day after Arnaud Démare snatched the points jersey from Pascal Ackermann.

The Course

The 158-km route was dominated by the first Cat. 1 mountain of the race, the 8.7-km, 9.5 percent Montoso da Bibiani, which peaked with 32 km remaining. The climb had a 6.5-km section that was 10.4 percent. After its crest, the riders had a hairy descent, some flat road, and then the 500-metre, 12.8 percent cobbled Wall of Pinerolo. Finally, a 2-km drop took them home.

The Huge Breakaway

Thomas De Gendt and Eddie Dunbar’s move soon after the gun in Cuneo drew a huge chase group that turned into an enormous breakaway. Twenty-five riders whipped up a 15:30 gap before the GC men put their teammates out front in the peloton.

On a day when it was expected that Valerio Conti would lose the pink to Primož Roglič, it looked like the Italian would be handing it over to fugitive teammate Jan Polanc, who also happens to be Roglič’s Slovenian compatriot.

Montoso

The break hit the Cat. 1 climb with a 13:00 gap. Sean Bennett and Marco Haller skipped away from their breakmates at the foot.

Bennett and Haller were lassoed and spat out the back as seven riders including Polanc took over the lead, with Gianluca Brambilla yanking the King of the Mountains jersey from his teammate Giulio Ciccone’s shoulders by cresting Montoso first. From the peloton Angel Lopez and Mikel Landa attacked, looking to make up a lot of time on Roglič.

Conclusion in Pinerolo

The favourites group was down to 16, with Conti missing and Roglič isolated but Simon Yates with two teammates. Lopez and Landa hit the peak of Montoso a minute ahead of their rivals.

The Polanc-Brambilla group received reinforcements, as did Lopez and Landa from the original breakaway.

Brambilla attacked the cobbled climb in Pinarolo and Eros Capecchi was able to go with him. Eddie Dunbar made it over after the top. The trio’s cat and mouse action proved to be their undoing as Cesare Benedetti made it over and then won the sprint.

Polanc came in 24 seconds later to seize pink and now leads countryman Roglič by 4:07. The favourites group was satisfied to limit Landa and Lopez’s gains to 29-seconds.

Besides new pink jersey Polanc and new KOM leader Brambilla, Hugh Carthy (Great Britain/EF Education First) assumed the best young rider jersey from Nan Peters.

Although there aren’t many sprint opportunities left, Démare and Ackermann won’t have Caleb Ewan and Elia Viviani to worry about, as both did not start of Thursday. Friday certainly isn’t a bunch sprint opportunity, with a summit finish atop a 34-km ascent.

2019 Giro d’Italia Stage 12

1) Cesare Benedetti (Italy/Bora-Hansgrohe) 3:41:49
2) Damiano Caruso (Italy/UAE-Emirates) s.t.
3) Eddie Dunbar (Ireland/Ineos) s.t.

2019 Giro d’Italia GC
1) Jan Polanc (Slovenia/UAE-Emirates) 48:49:40
2) Primož Roglič (Slovenia/Jumbo-Visma) +4:07
3) Valerio Conti (Italy/UAE-Emirates) +4:51
5) Vincenzo Nibali (Italy/UAE-Emirates) +5:51
6) Bauke Mollema (The Netherlands/Trek-Segafredo) +6:02
13) Simon Yates (Great Britain/Mitchelton-Scott) +7:53
16) Angel Lopez (Colombia/Astana) +8:08
21) Mikel Landa (Spain/Movistar) +8:31

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