- Published: Thursday, 21 May 2015 12:39
- Written by Jamie Naragon
Philippe Gilbert of the BMC Racing Team roared up the finishing straight in the midst of a raging downpour to win Stage 12 of the Giro d'Italia Thursday.
Out of the saddle and furiously rocking his BMC teammachine SLR01 side-to-side on the uphill sprint to the line, the former world road champion overtook solo leader Tanel Kangert (Astana Pro Team) in the last 200 meters and had time to sit up and celebrate his first victory of the season.
Race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) was runner-up, three seconds later, and Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) finished third. The victory was Gilbert's second at the Giro in four appearances and the BMC Racing Team's ninth on the year.
"This is amazing and it is a great feeling," Gilbert said. "Before the stage this morning, we had a talk and the entire team was really focused because we knew this would be a good stage for me. All of the guys did a great job for me, especially the tremendous effort to bring two guys back late."
Kangert was riding with Franco Pellizotti (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), who had attacked with less than 20 kilometers to go in the 190-km race. The pair led by nearly 30 seconds heading into the final five kilometers, but the BMC Racing Team went to the front to chase them down.
"I decided to wait for the group because I heard that Silvan Dillier and Amaël Moinard had rejoined from behind," Gilbert said. "We got organized and worked well as a team for the final few kilometers. This win is very important for the team and for me. We have tried many times, and finally we have won."
BMC Racing Team's Damiano Caruso finished 14th, six seconds back, to hold onto his eighth place overall. Two other BMC Racing Team riders are also in the top 20: Darwin Atapuma, who finished 19th on the day, is 14th at 3:24, and Moinard is 19th, 5:05 behind.
BMC Racing Team Sport Director Fabio Baldato said two things were pivotal to the win: the return of Dillier and Moinard to help with the chase and course reconnaissance on the final kilometers Gilbert performed prior to Milan-San Remo in March.
"Having Amaël and Silvan do that work late was the last little piece that we needed to close the gap," Baldato said. "But we cannot forget the great work done at the beginning of the stage by Brent Bookwalter, Marcus Burghardt, Stefan Küng and Rick Zabel. All of them were working in the wind to cover Philippe, Damiano and Darwin. They were really motivated to have this win."
BMC Racing Team's Stefan Küng crashed heavily, along with two riders from the CCC Sprandi Polkowice team, while descending off the climb of the Crosara, about 17 kilometers from the finish. He was able to continue for a short time but then stopped. The winner of a stage of the Tour de Romandie and the Volta Limburg Classic was taken by rescue squad to a nearby hospital. More details will follow on the extent of his injuries and condition as they become available ... Gilbert's last win prior to Thursday occurred last October on Stage 2 of the Tour of Beijing on his way to winning the race overall. His last victory at the Giro d'Italia - in four participations (2004, 2006, 2009 and this year) - dated back to a similar winning effort on Stage 20 in 2009 ... The BMC Racing Team's last stage win in a grand tour came on Stage 12 of the 2013 Vuelta a España, also by Gilbert. It was also his victory of that season.