Narváez earns 1st Giro stage win; Almeida stays in pink

CESENATICO, Italy (AP) — Jhonatan Narváez earned his first victory in a Grand Tour by winning the 12th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Thursday, and João Almeida held onto the pink jersey.

Narváez, an Ecuadorian rider with the Ineos Grenadiers team, finished 1 minute, 8 seconds ahead of Mark Padun, who had a flat tire on the final descent as the duo were leading the rain-soaked stage.

“Today, I woke up with the right spirit and wanted to be the protagonist in this stage,” Narváez said. “It is not a problem for me to race in the rain, in fact, I prefer it to the hot weather.”

Simon Clarke was third, 6:50 behind Narváez, at the end of the hilly 204-kilometer (124-mile) route that started and ended in Cesenatico.

All three had been in a 14-man breakaway. Narváez and Padun attacked from the remnants of the escape group, with around 50 kilometers remaining, as the weather worsened.

They looked set to contest the finale but Padun’s bike failure cost him dearly and although the Ukrainian rider managed to close the gap to within 10 seconds, Narváez rallied to solo to victory.

The stage also featured five categorized climbs but, on a wet and windy day, there were no attacks from the riders chasing overall victory. They crossed the line 8:25 behind Narváez.

Almeida, a Portuguese rider with the Deceuninck-Quick Step team, remained 34 seconds ahead of Wilco Kelderman and 43 seconds ahead of Pello Bilbao overall.

“Today was a very tough stage. I am happy to have managed to keep the maglia rosa (pink jersey),” Almeida said. “Once again my team was extraordinary, I’m really grateful to my teammates.”

Friday’s 13th stage is a mainly flat 192-kilometer (119-mile) leg from Cervia to Monselice, although it features two categorized climbs towards the end of the route.

The Giro was rescheduled from its usual May slot because of the coronavirus pandemic. The race ends in 10 days with an individual time trial in Milan.

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