After an exhilarating stage in the mountains, the first of this year’s Giro, Jan Polanc has risen up the GC rankings to take the pink jersey from team mate Valerio Conti, ensuring that UAE Team Emirates retains the iconic Maglia Rosa and takes it into the latter half of the tour.
Polanc crossed the line in 6th place behind stage winner Cearse Benedetti (BORA – Hansgrohe), but the impressive team performance of the Emirati outift allowed the Slovenian climber to leap frog his closest rivals into the top spot.
After the tactical masterclass played by UAE Team Emirates, Polanc now has a comfortable buffer of 4:07” over race favourite Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma) who sits in second spot and is 4:51” ahead of team mate Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) who sits in third place.
The 158km mountain stage from Cuneo to Pinerolo was raced at a high pace, averaging over 42km/h, despite the peloton having to get over a challenging category 1 climb known as the ‘Muro’ or wall.
The 9km ramp, which topped out at 14% played an instrumental role in splitting up the peloton and isolating a lot of the main GC contenders – making it difficult for them to chase down the 24 man breakaway.
Jan Polanc was one of the GC hopefuls who managed to sneak into the early break and stayed with the group throughout the race. With 20kms to go the lead group was down to a handful of riders but Polanc remained in the mix and looked strong, driven on with the knowledge that he was the virtual Maglia Rosa.
#Giro d'Italia 2019 - Stage 12 | Tappa 12— Giro d'Italia (@giroditalia) May 23, 2019
Maglia Rosa @EnelGroupIT: @PolancJan
Maglia Ciclamino @segafredoitalia: @ArnaudDemare
Maglia Azzurra @BancaMediolanum: @glbrambilla
Maglia Bianca @EurospinItalia: Hugh Carthy
Rankings | Classifiche: https://t.co/KotyBehJvG pic.twitter.com/RFRNSkKjW7
Polanc continued to ride hard, picking up 3 valuable bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint in Cavour and finally crossed the line in 6th place after over 3 hours and 42 minutes in the saddle.
Commenting on his first win of the season, Polanc said: “It was a great stage today and I achieved my goal. I was aiming for the stage win also, but the others knew I could take the jersey so I had to work extra hard. Myself and Valerio are similar riders and now after two stage wins in previous Giros I get to wear the pink jersey. It’s an absolute dream come true for me so I’ll fight to keep it as long as possible.”
Commenting on the race, Conti said: “Everything went as planned today. Tactically it was perfect. I think we took everyone by surprise. As for me, I had a wonderful week with some amazing days in pink. I think today I showed I’m a team player and I’m delighted for Polanc because he’s done a lot of work for me in the past week. I’m happy I lost the jersey to him – he deserves it.”
Stage 12 Results
General Classification Standings
Tomorrow’s 196km stage from Pinerolo to Ceresole Reale showcases the first summit finale of the Giro and challenges the peloton with two categorised climbs before they hit the finish line, which sits at 2247m above sea level.
After a pedestrian day in the peloton, Valerio Conti successfully retained the pink jersey on the 221km stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia from Carpi to Novi Ligure.
There were few obstacles for the UAE team riders and Conti was able to savour the day in pink as the sprinters teams took control. A trio of riders got away but with so much firepower in the bunch, the stage was set for a sprint.
Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) proved fastest to the line, with Simone Consonni bouncing back from his crash yesterday to sprint home for a fine 6th.
Valerio Conti: “Of all my days in the pink jersey, today was the best. I really enjoyed it. Tomorrow is a hard day and everything will be different.”
Tomorrow will see the road peak upwards again with a 158 km heading from Cuneo to Pinerolo.
Stage 11 Results:
1 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal 5h17’26”
2 Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ s.t.
3 Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe s.t.
6 Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates s.t.
General Classification after stage 11:
1 Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 45h02’05”
2 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo Visma +1’50”
3 Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale +2’21”
UAE Team Emirates’ Valerio Conti will remain in the Pink Jersey at the Giro d’Italia, taking it into the first rest day.
Sunday’s stage, a 33.4km Individual Time Trial (ITT) saw Conti finish with a time of 55:26, in what were difficult conditions for all riders. The Italian finished “3:34 behind the stage winner, Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo Visma), who climbed to second place in the General Classification (GC) standings and closes the time gap to Conti, which now sits at “1:50.
There were also positive individual performances from UAE Team Emirates’ Jan Polanc (“1:55) and Diego Ulissi (“2:08) – who finished the stage 12th and 15th respectively, and both climbing in the GC standings.
Commenting on the stage, Conti said: “As planned, I did not take any risks, especially with this unbelievably bad weather. I raced the entire time trial in the pouring rain.
“It was hard to see, I tried to keep focus and to push hard on the climb. My goal was to retain the pink jersey and I achieved it; I made that promise to my team-mates.
“We will spend the rest day in pink, which is great.”
Riders will now take a day to rest, before hopping back on their bikes for Stage 10 on Tuesday morning. The 145km route is almost completely flat and a bunched sprint finish is the most likely outcome.
Stage Nine results
Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo Visma) – 51:52
Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal) – “11
Bauke Mollema (Trek – Segafredo) – “1:00
Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) – “1:55
Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) – “2:08
Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) – “3:34
General Classification Standings
Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) – 35:08:32
Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo Visma) – “1:50
Nans Peters (AG2R La Mondiale) – “2:21