It seems as if there's no such thing as an easy stage in the Giro d'Italia.
Easy, of course, is a relative term when it comes to riding 214 kilometres at an average speed of 45kph, but after four straight energy-sapping stages, stage 12 looked to be a day where the general classification contenders could relax.
Maybe they did, and therein lay the problem, or perhaps the pouring rain near the finish played a significant factor. Either way, it left a group of contenders suddenly in strife, and requiring to tap into unexpected resources to stay in touch with the peloton.
That included George Bennett who, with 30 kilometres to go, found himself separated from the main group as rain and wind lashed the peloton. He, as well as the likes of Richard Carapaz, Miguel Angel Lopez and Domenico Pozzovivo, quickly found themselves 30 seconds in arrears, and having to fight to avoid losing time.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
It took them a 10 kilometre battle to do so, and just as they rejoined, the bunch hit a brief climb, with several riders launching attacks, including the man right behind Bennett on the overall standings, Rohan Dennis.
The favourites were alert to the danger however, and despite the corybantic conclusion, they all managed to cross the line without losing time; Bennett finishing 28th to retain sixth overall, two minutes and nine seconds behind leader Simon Yates.
Once again though, it was the other Bennett to take centre stage - the Irish sprinter, Sam Bennett. He was by far the strongest finisher left of the heavily reduced bunch which made it to the line, and even took it on himself to close down a dangerous late attack by Carlos Betancur and stage 10 victor, Matej Mohoric.
The pair had a slender advantage right until the end, but, as the race swung onto its final kilometre on the Imola racetrack, Sam Bennett revved up the engine, and put his foot on the accelerator to take his second Giro victory.
Niall Anderson is covering every stage of the Giro d'Italia live for the Herald. He was going to write that tomorrow's stage looks straightforward, but who the hell knows anymore.
Niall's Giro d'Italia wraps