Damiano Caruso 2nd in Pinerolo
The 12th stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia served up the first real long climbs, and the riders of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM showed that they were up to the task: After a long day in the lead group Damiano Caruso sprinted to a 2nd place in Pinerolo, and Vincenzo Nibali moved up from 11th to 5th in the overall standings due to a strong performance.
The course of the 102nd Giro d’Italia did not feature any climbs of the two highest categories throughout the initial eleven stages. As the first category 1 climb of the race, the Montoso climb in the Piedmont region was the first real climbing test. The fight for the stage took shape early on as 23 riders went up the road soon after the start in Cuneo. This group featured a solid mix of strong rouleurs and climbers, and it managed to build a substantial lead over the peloton that maxed out at 15 minutes before the peloton upped its pace and started to chase in earnest. The BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM had one rider in the lead group with Damiano Caruso, and the Italian showed a strong performance on the slopes of the Montoso: He kept himself in the lead of the race when the group shrank to six and then four riders, crossing the Montoso KOM in 2nd place behind Gianluca Brambilla.
On the following descent and the way to the finish in Pinerolo, two more riders managed to get back to form a lead group of six riders. With three kilometers to go a steep climb with double-digit gradients on cobblestones put the riders to their limits. Brambilla and Eros Capecchi attacked on this steep climb while Damiano Caruso preferred to ride at his own pace. In the finale, first Eddie Dunbar and then the Italian rider of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM and Cesare Benedetti managed to get back to the race leaders. In the sprint for the stage win Damiano Caruso only got beaten by Benedetti, but his 2nd place in Pinerolo is the best stage result for the team in this year’s Giro d’Italia so far. Almost more importantly, Caruso showed that he has left the health issues behind that had slowed him down throughout the first week of the race.
The showdown of the overall contenders was highly entertaining as well: For a long time Vincenzo Nibali could rely on the support of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM. On the slopes of the Montoso, the Sicilian showed his class: Apart from Miguel Lopez and Mikel Landa, none of the favourites tries an attack, but the pace went up gradually withering down the group of favourites rider by rider. Just before the Montoso KOM, Vincenzo Nibali countered an attack by Majka and Sivakov, distancing his main rivals and heading into the twisting descent with a small advantage. On the way to Pinerolo Roglic and Yates managed to get back to his wheel however. But thanks to his strong performance, Nibali moved up from 11th to 5th in the overall standings, which is very promising for today’s first real mountain stage of the race.
102ND GIRO D’ITALIA, STAGE 12: CUNEO - PINEROLO, 158KM
1. Cesare Benedetti, ITA, in 3:41.49 hours
2. Damiano Caruso, ITA/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, st
3. Eddie Dunbar, IRL, st