Bennett wins 12th stage, Yates maintains Giro d’Italia lead

Sam Bennett of Ireland pulled off a superb final attack to win the 12th stage of the Giro d’Italia as Simon Yates remained in the overall lead on Thursday.

Bennett opened up his sprint a long way out to storm past Matej Mohoric and Carlos Betancur and claim his second victory of this Giro, at the end of the 214-kilometer route from Osimo to the motorsport race circuit of Imola.

Danny van Poppel was second, just ahead of Niccolo Bonifazio on the wet finish line.

The general classification was unchanged and Yates retained his 47-second advantage over defending champion Tom Dumoulin.

Thibaut Pinot was third, 1:04 behind the British cyclist.

The stage was meant to be a relatively easy one before the race hits the mountains this weekend.

However, rain and hail in the final 30 kilometers and the one classified climb of the day made it more chaotic than it would have been.

The early breakaway of five had been reeled in by then. Tim Wellens attacked with just over 20 kilometers remaining and built a gap af 23 seconds but he was caught, too. Though there were more attacks nothing stuck until Diego Ulissi made a move, taking with him Betancur.

Mohoric bridged the gap to the leaders shortly after and they dropped Ulissi but had a gap of just four seconds heading into the race circuit for the second and final time.

Bennett caught everyone by surprise by making his move so early, surging into the lead with 400 meters remaining and holding on to become the first Irish cyclist to win two road stages of the Giro.

Another mainly flat stage is scheduled for Friday, a 180-kilometer leg from Ferrara to Nervesa della Battaglia before the race heats up again with a climb up Monte Zoncolan on Saturday and a grueling leg through the Dolomite Range on Sunday.

The race ends in Rome on May 27.