Friday, 18 May 2012
Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez retained the Tour of Italy race leader's pink jersey after Thursday's 12th stage won by Denmark's Lars Bak.
Lotto rider Bak finished 11 sec ahead of France's Sandy Casar and five other members of a breakaway group, with the peloton at 3m in 34 sec at the end of the 155km ride from Seravezza to Sestri Levante on the Ligurian coast in northwestern Italy.
It was a first Giro stage victory for the 32-year-old Dane, who counts several national road racing titles among his accolades.
Rodriguez, of the Katusha team, lies 17 sec ahead of Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda), although Casar moved into third place in the overall standings, at 26 sec.
"I won a team time trial at the Giro d'Italia last year but this is my first solo win for about three years and my first stage victory in a grand tour," said Bak.
"I always believed I could win a big race and dreamed of winning a stage in a grand tour. Now I've done that. It seems everything is coming slowly to me. I'm 32 and I've been a professional for 11 years. Today I had the luck. When you win on the highest level, you can't be happier."
Overall leader Rodriguez said his success on the Giro had set people talking in Spain.
"Whoever wants to win this year's Giro d'Italia will have to show their hand from Saturday onwards. That's when I'll be able to say what chance I've got winning the Giro d'Italia."
Friday's 13th stage is the final chance for sprinters before the onset of the more mountainous stages, a 121km run linking Savone to Cervere, in the Piedmont.