Nico Denz (Bora-Hansgrohe) scored the biggest victory of his career, after the German rider claimed stage 12 of the Giro d’Italia today, triumphing in a three-up sprint following a dramatic day in the breakaway.
Denz beat Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) and Sebastian Berwick (Israel-Premier Tech) in the final dash to the line in Rivoli, having jettisoned a much larger breakaway group almost 100 kilometers remaining.
The trio initially started out as a quintet, but Samuele Battistella (Astana Qazaqstan) was quickly dropped while Alessandro Tonelli (Green Project-Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) was distanced on the climb to Sacra di San Michele.
From there, the escapees opened up an advantage of almost three minutes along the descent and final run-in to Rivoli. Denz issued the first attack before settling into a cagey tempo that prevented anyone from coming around him in the end.
In the meantime, the peloton crossed the finish over eight minutes down, with Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) retaining the pink jersey with no changes at the top of the general classification. However, Ilan Van Wilder (Soudal-QuickStep) and Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) both gained around five minutes after infiltrating the breakaway.
Earlier, Skujins put in several attacks on the Colle Briada but he was unable to distance Berwick or Denz. The group crested the summit 40 kilometers from the finish with a gap of over three minutes on a disorganized chase, and despite a few hairy moments on the wet descent, they ensured it would be a three-way battle for spoils at the finish.
Denz tried his luck on an uphill incline with 12 kilometers remaining but Skujins latched on and Berwick dug deep to fight back into contention.
But the big German – riding his sixth Giro d’Italia – proved the strongest in the final sprint to take an emotional win, five years after he missed out to Matej Mohoric in Stage 10 of the 2018 edition of the race.
“I don’t know what to say – it’s really big for me and I’m obviously super proud,” Denz said. “First of all, I was not supposed to be in the breakaway but I got the green light to go. I looked around me and was surrounded by just monsters so I thought I’d just help [Bora-Hansgrohe team-mate] Konnie [Patrick Konrad] for the win.
“I knew I wanted to attack on a little kicker, which I did. Obviously, everything came back together but I have a fast finish and that saved me in the end. I’m over the moon right now.”
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