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Seravezza - Sestri Levante
Giro d'Italia - 17 May 2012
Giro d'Italia – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 19:05 on 17 May 2012. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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Yes, Rodriguez maintains his 17 second lead over Hesjedal, with Casar moving up to third in the GC, 26 seconds back.
The peloton crosses the finish line 3:34 in arrears, which means Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha will stay in pink.
It won't be enough - the peloton are powering into the final kilometre only 2:20 down.
Sandy Casar just manages to hold off Andrey Amador for second place and some vital bonus seconds. Will it be enough?
Lars Bak is all smiles as he coasts to the line, zips up his shirt, kisses to the crowd and takes the win.
Bak caught them sleeping and will surely take the win.
Bak edges round a tight bend and passes the one-to-go banner. The big Dane is looking good for the win.
They're letting Bak go clear!
Cat and mouse here as Lars Bak makes a move! And opens a small gap.
Now Santaromita goes! Casar responds - he has to. It's back as one. The peloton is now four minutes back, unconcerned.
Jackson Rodriguez catches and passes the leaders! That was cheeky. But the Androni man is pulled back in. They start the waiting game now as they approach the finish town of Sestri Levante.
The leaders have 3:50 on the peloton. Remember, there are bonus seconds at the end - so that could affect the destination of the pink jersey. Both Casar (+4:01) and Santaromita (+4:16) are in with a shout.
Bak, Bakelants and Txurruka have rejoined Casar, Santaromita and Amador. Jackson Rodriguez is almost there, but Keizer and Golas are out of the equation it seems. Amador has a pop at breaking clear but is reeled in. This is very exciting.
Liquigas don't allow Tiralongo to get away and the three are reeled back in. The peloton crosses the summit 3:47 down on the leaders, who are well onto the descent. So, Casar may not be in pink tonight after all. The leading group is coming back together on this downhill so we should get a pretty exciting finish.
Tiralongo and Cunego have a small gap on the pack, with a Rabobank in pursuit. It's the youngster Tom Slagter. But they're not making much ground over the pack.
ATTACK: Astana's Paolo Tiralongo jumps clear of the peloton, and is checked by Lampre's Damiano Cunego. Tiralongo is third in the GC, 32 seconds down on Rodriguez.
Amador attacks! The Costa Rican takes the points over the summit, with Santaromita and Casar crossing the line a few seconds back in second and third. Hang on, that was not the summit - it was a banner. In fact, it's Casar who takes the points ahead of Santaromita and Amador when the real summit does come a bit later. They will begin the descent as a trio out ahead.
Golas has been dropped by the others, but the Pole manages to fight back on after the pace drops. Casar still leads Santaromita on the front. Keizer even manages to get back in touch as Txurruka and then Bak have a pop. Back in the bunch, it's still Liquigas and Lampre. Remember, Casar is 4:01 on Rodriguez in the GC. The gap back to the bunch is now 4:25.
Now Casar leads the chase. Golas is smiling it seems, but he's about to be caught by the chasers. The Frenchman puts in a big dig and Keizer is the first to be dropped, clearly feeling the after effects of being involved in multiple breaks this past week. Golas is caught and Casar puts in another attack!
Golas has 20 seconds but the chasing group are closing in. It's Bakelants setting the pace, despite that earlier crash, and Keizer is feeling the pinch. The rangy Dutchman is distanced but then rejoins.
One thing's for sure: we may see more drama on the final descent than the final climb today. It's going to be a thrilling finale to this stage.
Bakelants is back with the leaders, who are still chasing down Golas. The Pole only has a handful of seconds as he approaches the final climb of the day.
Despite those near-misses, Golas is still 22 seconds ahead of the other escapees. The peloton is riding at 5:03.
It looks like the peloton has thrown in the towel again: Liquigas have pulled the plug, and the leaders see their gap increase to 5 minutes. Perhaps I spoke too soon - the pink jersey may yet still change shoulders.
CRASH: Jan Bakelants skids off on a bend and has lost contact with the other escapees. Bad luck for the RadioShack rider, who's not hurt, but will struggle to get back in touch, especially with Golas powering ahead further down the road. Talking of Golas, the Polish youngster has his second near miss - and then a third! He's taking this one very dangerously. On the last one, he overcooked a bend and had to ride into a driveway...
Problems for Michele Scarponi: the defending champion must have picked up a puncture because he's off the back of the bunch and being pace back by a cluster of Lampre team-mates.
The final Villa Tassani climb includes numerous turns and has an average gradient of 7% with sections at 11% near Cardini. The descent to Sestri Levante is difficult and ends just six kilometres before the finish. There is a narrow bridge at 4.5km from the finish. The race route enters the town centre on wide roads, interrupted by occasional roundabouts. The final kilometre is along the seafront with a corner at 500m to go. The finish is 6.5m wide.
Golas overcooks a tight bend as he tries to maintain his lead over the other leaders. The peloton is 4:33 back: the group won't be caught, but the pink jersey shouldn't change hands.
Golas opened up a gap when taking the points over the summit and the Pole is still out ahead of his fellow eight escapees. The peloton is over the top now, just 4:18 in arrears.
The lead continues to drop - it's under five minutes now, so Joaquim Rodriguez's pink jersey may be safe after all. Not that Katusha have anything to do with it: the Russian team are nowhere to be seen and it's Liquigas and Lampre doing all the chasing.
With Liquigas and Lampre moving to the front of the bunch, the lead is beginning to tumble: 5:30 now, as Michal Golas zips off to take maximum points over the summit. The Pole will certainly be in the blue jersey tonight.
The race's first blue jersey (from way back in Denmark) Alfredo Balloni drops his chain and is distanced by the bunch. The leaders now have 6:10 over the peloton, so it's coming down. Bakelants is keen to push on as Casar drops back to speak to his team car. Amador is gesticulating with someone, perhaps Txurruka. Back in the bunch, Liquigas are now setting the pace.
There was an uncontested intermediate sprint ahead of this climb: 1. Keizer, 2. Santamorita, 3. Txurruka.
ATTACK: BMC's Ivan Santaromita has a dig. The Italian needs to make 15 seconds on Casar if he wants to be in pink tonight (provided they peloton stays more than four minutes back). Casar is having none of this and reels him in. The break then comes back together again. It's a bit early to be making a move at this stage - and the Frenchman will tell his Italian colleague that, no doubt.
Front wheel change for AG2R's Julien Berard off the back of the bunch. The nine leaders are still combining well. Casar will have the pink jersey in mind, while the others will be thinking about the stage win. Even if the group stays out, expect some movement from the peloton: useful time could be won and lost by GC riders over the final climb and descent today.
Seven minutes now, the gap. The nine-man group are now onto the main test of the day, the Cat.2 Valico La Mola.
The peloton seem pretty resigned to letting this break stay out. The lead keeps getting bigger: 6'30 now. Perhaps Katusha are happy to lose the pink today, to take the pressure off. Neither Casar nor Santaromita, the best placed in the group, are exactly threats for the final GC in Milan. Meanwhile, Katusha's Gatis Smukulis crashes in a tunnel and needs a wheel change.
Jackson Rodriguez gets a small tug from his Androni team car when picking up a banana and a bidon. The gap back to the peloton is 5:50 so this group could well stay out until the finish now. Back in the bunch, Sky's Bernie Eisel leads his red jersey team-mate Mark Cavendish on the front down this descent.
The lead has ballooned to 5:35, which puts Sandy Casar in the virtual pink jersey. Katusha only have two riders on the front of the peloton, mind, so it seems like they're not too bothered for the moment.
The leaders pass the feeding zone at La Baracca. The main part of the descent is coming up, so it's going to be a rather technical and fast lunch.
The peloton cross the summit just over four minutes in arrears. Confirmation of the order over the Cat.3 Valico Guaitarola: 1. Golas (5pts), 2. Jac. Rodriguez (3pts), Bakelants (2pts), Txurruka (1pt).
Jackson Rodriguez launches his sprint in search of those mountain points - he's clearly trying to take them to protect his team-mate Miguel Rubiano's blue jersey. But Golas takes his wheel and then easily pulls ahead to take maximum points. With three points in the first climb and now five in this one, Golas is level with Rubiano in the blue jersey standings.
Absolutely incredible aerial views from the heli cam. These mountains are covered in pine trees which reach for the skies. Back on the roads, it's Bakelants of RadioShack who sets the pace, before allowing Amador in for a go.
Liquigas, Lampre and Katusha are on the front of the peloton: they're the respective teams of big race favourites Ivan Basso, Michele Scarponi and Joaquim Rodriguez. The gap's up to 3:47.
The break are combining well on this climb. Vacansoleil's Martijn Keizer must be exhausted: the Dutchman has been involved in at least three breaks so far in this year's Giro. Of the nine, you'd have to mark out Txurruka as the danger man. The Spaniard is a tidy climber. Casar also has a lot of experience.
Confirmation of the revised leading group: Sandy Casar (FDJ-BigMat), Ivan Santaromita (BMC), Jackson Rodriguez (Androni Giocattoli), Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Nissan), Andrey Amador (Movistar), Michal Golas (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Lars Bak (Lotto Belisol), Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel) and Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil-DCM). They have 3:30 over the bunch.
CRASH: Australia's Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol) has hit the deck aty the start of this climb. He's okay, but appears to be a bit winded. Perhaps he landed on his chest, or banged a rib with his handlebars.
The leaders are onto the Cat 3 Valico Guaitarola climb. They have a lead of 2:38 as Katusha seem to take their feet off the gas and allow Sky to come to the front of the bunch. The peloton are still back in a grand coastal town. There has been a bit of misinformation coming through: Luca Mazzanti (Farnese Vini) is not in this break. It's Euskaltel's Amets Txurruka.
It's a stunning sight from above, this winding descent through the Ligurian hills. The gap is still under two minutes for the nine leaders as the peloton stretches out on the downhill.
The leading nine-man group are onto the descent but their gap is down to 1:40.
Finally we have confirmation of the order over the first climb of the day, La Foce: 1. Golas (3pts), 2. Bakelants (2pts), 3. Bak (1pt). No it's no surprise, with Polish rider Golas making some in-roads in his pursuit of the blue jersey.
Back in the peloton, it's the Katusha team of pink jersey Joaquim Rodriguez who are controlling the pace. The danger man up ahead is Frenchman Casar, who is only 4:01 down in the GC. They have completed the first classified climb of the day, La Foce, but we have not had confirmation of the order over the summit. The race is now on the uncategorised Passo de Termine ahead of the second major test of the day.
We now have a nine-man breakaway 2:35 up the road after the chasing pair caught that initial escape group. Full composition: Sandy Casar (FDJ-BigMat), Ivan Santaromita (BMC), Jackson Rodriguez (Androni Giocattoli), Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Nissan), Andrey Amador (Movistar), Michal Golas (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Lars Bak (Lotto Belisol), Luca Mazzanti (Farnese Vini) and Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil-DCM).
Keizer has joined Rodriguez (Jackson, not Joaquim) as they combine in a bid to reach the seven leaders, who hold a 25 second lead over the chasing duo and 3:15 over the bunch.
Another withdrawal to report: apparently Denmark's Mats Christensen (Saxo Bank) did not take to the start today.
Jan Barta was reeled in by the peloton, but another two riders are trying to reach the escapees. They are Jackson Rodriguez of Androni and serial escapee Martijn Keizer of Vacansoleil-DCM. The seven leaders have 1:10 over the peloton.
So, Colnago's Miguel Rubiano didn't make the cut - but his blue jersey rival Michal Golas is there. The Pole will certainly have his eyes on the points over the summit of today's climbs. The rider in pursuit is Jan Barta of NetApp.
The seven escapees now have 25 seconds on the bunch. They are: Sandy Casar (FDJ-BigMat), Ivan Santaromita (BMC), Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Nissan), Andrey Amador (Movistar), Michal Golas (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Lars Bak (Lotto Belisol) and Luca Mazzanti (Farnese Vini). One or two riders are trying to bridge the gap.
BREAK: A cluster of riders have forced a gap off the front of the peloton. They include Sandy Casar (FDJ), Lars Bak (Lotto Belisol), Michal Golas (Omega Pharma) and Jan Bakelants (RadioShack).
If and when a break forms today, expect stage six winner Miguel Rubiano to be involved. The Androni climber leads the mountains classification and will look to consolidate his blue jersey with four classified climbs on the agenda today. He currently has 24 points, and leads Michal Golas (OP-QS), who has 16 points. Tied for third on nine points are Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) and Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago), both stage winners already.
Still no break to form, although Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil-DCM) has just put in an attack. But it's in vain as the Italian is reeled in by the bunch, which is rolling along at an average speed of 46kmh. In about 15km we have the first climb of the day, the cat three La Foce. A group should go clear here, if not before.
EXCLUSIVE EUROSPORT INTERVIEW: Britain’s Bradley Wiggins believes he stands a good chance of winning the Tour de France in July if he can avoid crashes and illness. The Team Sky leader agonisingly crashed out of last year's Tour with a broken collarbone but has been in scintillating form this season, winning both Paris-Nice and the Tour of Romandie.
One overnight withdrawal from the race to report: William Bonnet (FDJ-BigMat) has called it a day. The Frenchman crashed heavily in the Danish leg of the Giro. Today is the 22nd birthday of Italy's Sonny Colbrelli: the Colnago-CSF rider is the youngest ride competing in this year's Giro.
The race is still together at this early stage. Emanuele Sella of Androni Giocattoli has a technical problem and needs some assistance, but nothing serious. Yesterday Matt Goss (GreenEdge) finished 183rd while Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) took fourth place. That was enough for the world champion to overtake his former HTC team-mate in the red jersey points standings.
Roberto Ferrari's win yesterday was a redeption of sorts for the Italian, who caused that huge crash when he took out world champion Mark Cavendish in stage three. "I have been upset by people considering me a cheat and colleagues who have made certain statements. Now I feel relieved, but they were difficult days. It was not easy to go back to jostling in the sprint. I was in a way under special observation," said Ferrari.
Today's start is in a marble mining region on the east coast of Italy, at the foot of the Apuanian alps. The first 50-odd kilometres are pretty flat and then the riders will take on five climbs, four of which are categorised, before descending to the finish after a final climb that comes just 11km from Sestri Levante. Yet again, the finish is a technical one: a 180-degree bend may cause a crash if there's a tired group contesting the sprint.
There were no changes at the top of the overall standings yesterday, with Joaquim Rodriguez maintaining a 17 second lead over Ryder Hesjedal. But it was a bad day for Frank Schleck, who lost 46 seconds to his rivals after being held up by crashes in the final 15km of stage 11. An angry Schleck, who pointedly blamed his loss on Garmin's Alex Rasmussen, now trails the maglia rosa by 2:11.
They're underway in sunny Seravezza! Expect a break to extricate itself from the podium pretty soon today - one thing's certain: there will be no bunch sprint in Sestri Levante in around five hours' time.
It's a sunny day in Seravezza as the remaining 188 riders take to the start of this tricky stage. It's 20 degrees and there are no clouds in the sky.
Italy's Roberto Ferrari won stage 11 of the Giro d'Italia in Montecatini in a hectic bunch sprint ahead of compatriot Francesco Chicchi. The controversial Androni Giocattoli sprinter negotiated a tight final bend with gusto, avoiding multiple falls to take his first career win in a Grand Tour a week after he caused a high-speed pile-up at the end of stage three in Denmark.
Welcome to live coverage of the stage 12 of the Giro d'Italia, a hilly 155km ride from Seravezza to Sestri Levante. Four categorised climbs will no doubt be conducive to a breakaway and may shake things up at the top of the overall standings.