Nico Denz won the 12th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Thursday for his first victory in a Grand Tour, while Geraint Thomas kept hold of the pink jersey as the race prepares to head into the mountains.
Denz, who rides for Bora-Hansgrohe, beat Toms Skujins and Sebastian Berwick at the end of the 185-kilometer hill leg from Bra to Rivoli in the Piedmont region.
The first stage win for Denz in his sixth Giro prompted the German to yell in joy after crossing the line and put his hands on his head as his eyes appeared to tear up.
All three riders were in a large breakaway that had to battle to escape at the beginning of the day.
The trio pulled away from its fellow escapees and had an advantage of more than eight minutes on the general classification group on the toughest part of the stage, a second-category climb 30 kilometers from the finish.
“The breakaway was definitely hard to get in, and then the hardest moment for me was the last climb, I was suffering so much and I barely made it over the top,” Denz said. “But getting there was also not so easy.
“When I made it over the last climb … I used the downhill to recover. And on the bottom, I started to think, ‘yeah, I can make this actually.’ And then they didn’t attack me, so I just threw everything in and yeah, from there on I thought, ‘I can maybe do this.’”
The rest of the breakaway rolled across the line two minutes, 20 seconds behind, around six minutes ahead of the GC contenders.
Thomas remained two seconds ahead of Primoz Roglic and 22 ahead of Joao Almeida.