Julian Alaphilippe produces breakaway masterclass to win stage 12 – Giro d’Italia

Giro d’Italia 2024

Stage 12

After 12 stages of trying, Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-QuickStep) proved that he was truly back to his best in 2024 and found the Giro d’Italia stage win he was so eagerly searching for on debut with a stunning performance in the breakaway to win solo in Fano.

Ever the embodiment of panache, the two-time World Champion launched the first of many attacks some 138km from the finish before getting into a two-man move ten kilometres later. It seemed too early at the time, but he and break companion Mirco Maestri (Polti-Kometa) would outlast all the chasers until Alaphilippe went solo 11.5km from the line with an attack on the final climb.

In what was a vintage Alaphilippe performance, the Frenchman crested the final Monte Giove climb with around a 40-second lead on the chasing group that contained eventual second place Jhonatan Narváez (Ineos Grenadiers) and Quinten Hermans (Alpecin-Deceuninck) who came third, but they never looked like chasing him down.

Alaphilippe was part of a huge breakaway fight that ignited in the walls of the Marche region, with almost a quarter of the remaining Giro peloton chancing their hand in the move in what was one of the fastest stages in Giro history.

A win at the Giro completed the Grand Tour stage win set for Alaphilippe, adding to his six Tour de France stage victories and singular win from La Vuelta a España. It was also his first win since last year’s Critérium du Dauphiné and his first at a Grand Tour since the opening stage of the 2021 Tour.

“No, no, no, I didn’t plan it. I was expecting a big group to be in the breakaway, and I think first I have to thank my teammates who really controlled perfectly the first 60k, and after, I was really focused to be in the front,” explained Alaphilippe before giving high praise to his companion in the break.

“We went first in the big group and then with Mirco Maestri together I said ‘We go’. He really deserved also to win today, he was amazing and we collaborated super well.”

It has been a tough period for Alaphilippe as he’s struggled with bad injuries in the last few years alongside public criticism from team boss Patrick Lefevere, but today was his day, silencing all the critics and paying off all the work with a dream win.

Alaphilippe launches an attack to drop Mirco Maestri.

“I believe in it [the win], but until the last kilometre, I had to keep pushing full gas because I heard Narváez was close behind me,” Alaphilippe said.

“It was my dream to win a stage at the Giro and I did it, I’m really happy. I think of my wife and my son, they’ve supported me since forever.”

Race leader Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) stayed safe in the peloton on a calm day alongside Dani Martínez (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), with no attacks being launched on the final climb.

11th-place Jan Hirt (Soudal-QuickStep) threatened to move up in the early break, but Bahrain Victorious made sure the group he was in was reeled back to protect fifth-place Antonio Tiberi’s GC position.

The hotly anticipated start of stage 12 at the Giro d’Italia welcomed hot and hazy weather in Martinsicuro with a 193km fight in the muri marchigiani – the walls of the Marche region – which we see so often in Tirreno-Adriatico.

The 50km run north up the coast was some of the fastest racing in Giro history, with a 57kph average speed being held throughout the first hour as nearly each of the 22 teams chanced their hand to get into the early break, with a hilly parcours offering the perfect day to stay away.

Small groups would get ahead momentarily with the likes of Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech) getting some small advantage while passing through San Benedetto del Tronto along the Adriatic coast but a strong tailwind was making it easy to follow the moves and not allowing a big group to go.

The action was far from calm, but things kicked off properly when the race turned left away from the coast and into the hills just before reaching Civitanova Alta, where Alaphilippe ignited a massive move with Andrea Piccolo (EF Education-EasyPost) on the uncategorised climb to Montecosaro.

This would bring former stage winners at this year’s Giro, Jhonatan Narváez (Ineos Grenadiers), Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis) and Pelayo Sanchez (Movistar) into action in a big chasing group with a second chasing group of other strong rouleurs and puncheurs following closely behind.

The peloton begins to tackle a climb.

With 132km to go, the big break had been formed, but it was just too big. Things started to swell on the uncategorised uphill rise into Montelupone until Alaphilippe decided he was unhappy with the configuration and launched a move with Maestri 126km from the line.

The duo instantly got a gap and kicked on as the 36 other riders in the breakaway tried to organise behind. With nearly a quarter of the remaining 154-rider peloton at this year’s Giro up the road, things were calm for the GC sat three minutes down, even with 11th-place Jan Hirt (Soudal-QuickStep) getting away.

This remained true until the 100km to go mark when Bahrain-Victorious decided they would pace at the front of the peloton to protect fifth-place Antonio Tiberi’s advantage over the Czech climber.

But the danger of Hirt disappeared when attacks restarted in the chasing breakaway group on the flat with 93km to go.

This is where the stronger men in the break such as Narváez and Matteo Trentin (Tudor) were forced to accelerate after Christian Scaroni (Astana Qazaqstan) and Ewen Costiou (Arké-B&B Hotels) got things going again.

The Hirt group would fall away and stop posing any threat to the top 10 on GC as a mechanical ruined Costiou’s chances and formed a nine-rider group as the main chasing group.

Cooperation wasn’t great, however, as the Muro came thing and fast in Marche, with each wall stinging the legs even more. Alaphilippe was keeping his fellow escapee Maestri close despite his obvious struggle on the uphill, knowing he’d be essential to making it.

Despite the strength of the nine-man group, Narváez, Trentin, Valgren, Clarke, Thomas, Dion Smith (Intermarché-Wanty), Gijs Leemreize (DSM-Firmenich PostNL), Christian Scaroni (Astana Qazaqstan) and Hermans, they would actually start losing time until around the 30km to go mark when they were back to a minute deficit.

Alaphilippe celebrates a sensational victory.

With 20km to go and the wind picking up, the group behind began to work better and reduced the advantage to 45 seconds with the final climb of the day to Monte Giove approaching.

This is where Alaphilippe and Maestri would say goodbye with the Frenchman setting off at the foot in pursuit of the stage win. Behind, Valgren would launch with Narváez in his wheel, but no one could make up the difference on the flying Frenchman.

The Ecuadorian continued to show his brilliance at this year’s Giro after he got away with Hermans but the damage was done by Alaphilippe and they were only fighting for second and third with Narváez having too much in the sprint.

GC action looked as though it might have kicked off behind with Bora-Hansgrohe positioning Martínez perfectly on the steep, narrow ramp but nothing happened and the group of favourites would just stay safe until they reached the line, preparing for another flat stage tomorrow and the big time trial on Saturday.

Friday’s stage 13 is the flattest of the entire Giro. At 179 kilometres, the pink caravan moves from Riccione to Cento, where a bunch sprint is expected to wrap things up.

Riccione lies just south of Rimini and after 7 kilometres the peloton moves through the place of Marco Pantani’s untimely death. Moments later the riders turn inland, but the profile of the route does not change a bit. The roads are as flat as it gets and the elevation gain between Riccione and Cento does not exceed 200 metres.

The Giro last visited Cento in 1995. Mario Cipollini crossed the line in first position, but was relegated because of leaning on Mario Manzoni during the dash to the line. Czech Ján Svorada, who came in second, was awarded the stage honours.

The second and third intermediate sprint come with 3, 2 and 1 seconds, while the first three riders on the line gain 10, 6 and 4 seconds.

Stage 12 result:

1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Soudal Quick-Step, in 4:07:44
2. Jhonatan Narváez (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, at 31s
3. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Alpecin-Deceuninck, at 32s
4. Michael Valgren (Den) EF Education-EasyPost, at 43s
5. Christian Scaroni (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan, at same time
6. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Tudor Pro Cycling, 1:30
7. Simon Clarke (Aus) Israel-Premier Tech,
8. Gijs Leemreize (Ned) dsm-firmenich Post NL,
9. Mirco Maestri (Ita) Polti Kometa,
10. Benjamin Thomas (Fra) Cofidis, all at same time

General Classification:

1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, in 45:22:35
2. Daniel Martinez (Col) Bora-Hansgrohe, +2:40
3. Geraint Thomas (Gbr) Ineos Grenadiers, +2:56
4. Ben O’Connor (Aus) Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale, +3:39
5. Antonio Tiberi (Ita) bahrain Victorious, +4-27
6. Romain Bardet (Fra) dsm-firmenich PostNL, +4-57
7. Lorenzo Fortunato (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan, +5:19
8. Filippo Zana (Ita) Jayco-AIUla, +5:23
9. Einer Rubio (Col) Movistar, +5:28
10. Thymen Arensman (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers, +5:52

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