IMOLA, ITALY – MAY 17: Svein Tuft of Canada and Team Mitchelton-Scott / Sam Bewley of New Zealand and Team Mitchelton-Scott / Simon Yates of Great Britain and Team Mitchelton-Scott Pink Leader Jersey / Christopher Juul Jensen of Denmark and Team Mitchelton-Scott / Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio of Colombia and Team Mitchelton-Scott Blue Mountain Jersey / during the 101st Tour of Italy 2018, Stage 12 a 214km stage from Osimo to Imola-Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari / Giro d’Italia / on May 17, 2018 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

A day flagged as a simple sprint stage turned out to be anything but in the finale, but Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Simon Yates finished safely in a reduced bunch on stage 12 to retain the overall lead at theGiro d’Italia.

Despite late attacks and splits, sprinter Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) won the stage with Yates and his general classification rivals all finishing in the reduced 50-rider bunch.

Breakaway:
It was the pro-continental teams who dominated the day’s breakaway with Marco Frapporti (Androni – Sidermac), Mirco Maestri and Manuel Senni (Bardiani – CSF) and Jacopo Mosca and Eugert Zhupa (Willier Triestina – Selle) making the move.

They left without too much of a battle, and it settled the bunch into a steady tempo.

All for the sprint:
With little on the profile to upset a bunch finish, sprinters sent their teammates to the front to control the stage, giving Mitchelton-SCOTT some respite for the day.

Quickstep Floors, Bora-Hansgrohe and EF Education First – Drapac all contributed riders and kept the gap around three-minutes before making the catch with 20km to go.

Surprise finish:
A surprisingly difficult finish was made even harder with rain and the result was anything but a simple sprint.

A number of attacks flew in the final 20km, including a solo move by Tim Wellens (Lotto FixAll) and then a duo of Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida) and Carlos Betancur (Team Movistar).

But in the end, Bennett surprised the reduced bunch by starting his sprint early and carrying it to the line.

Simon Yates – Race leader:
“It was good conditions for an Irishman [Bennett]! It was a very difficult final. I think a few guys underestimated that, me included. I think we’ve come through without any time loss, so it’s OK.

“I saw a few guys going, but in those conditions, it’s really hard to see who’s going, which is why I reacted, actually. I wasn’t sure who was there. Better to close it than to be behind.

“When a split in the bunch occurred, I had my team close to the front just to be careful. I heard through the radio there was a split but I didn’t know how many guys were there and how big the gap was. Once I heard [Domenico] Pozzovivo was caught behind, he was already back with the front group. Nobody likes to race in the rain but I have confidence in my equipment. It was a more difficult circuit at the end than we expected.”

Giro d’Italia – Stage 12 Results:
1. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 4:49:34
2. Danny van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo) ST
3. Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida) ST
32. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST

Giro d’Italia – General Classification after stage 12:
1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 51:57:55
2. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) +0:47
3. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) +1:04