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Vendrame claims 1st Grand Tour stage win, Bernal keeps lead

Italian cyclist Andrea Vendrame held off the rest of the breakaway pack to win the 12th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Thursday for his first victory in a Grand Tour and Egan Bernal kept the leader’s pink jersey.

Vendrame, who rides for AG2R Citroën, edged out Chris Hamilton in a sprint at the end of the 212-kilometer (132-mile) route from Siena to Bagno di Romagna that featured four categorized climbs.

There was also a sprint for third, with Gianluca Brambilla narrowly beating George Bennett. The duo finished 15 seconds behind Vendrame.

Italy's Andrea Vendrame celebrates winning the twelfth stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Siena to Bagno di Romagna, Italy, Thursday, May 20, 2021. (Massimo PaoloneLaPresse via AP)

All four had been part of a large breakaway.

Bernal crossed the line in the peloton to maintain his 45-second lead over Aleksandr Vlasov. Nobody else is within a minute of the 2019 Tour de France winner, with third-place Damiano Caruso 1:12 behind.

Friday’s 13th stage is an entirely flat 198-kilometer (123-mile) route from Ravenna to Verona that pays tribute to writer and philosopher Dante Alighieri on the 700th anniversary of his death. It will also give the riders a break before hitting the high mountains the following day.

Italy's Andrea Vendrame pedals on his way to win the twelfth stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Siena to Bagno di Romagna, Italy, Thursday, May 20, 2021. (Fabio FerrariLaPresse via AP)

The Giro finishes on May 30 in Milan with an individual time trial.

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Chris Hamilton leads during the twelfth stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Siena to Bagno di Romagna, Italy, Thursday, May 20, 2021. (Fabio FerrariLaPresse via AP)

Cyclists pedal during the twelfth stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Siena to Bagno di Romagna, Italy, Thursday, May 20, 2021. (Fabio FerrariLaPresse via AP)

An aerial view of Piazza del Campo as cyclists start the twelfth stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Siena to Bagno di Romagna, Italy, Thursday, May 20, 2021. (Marco AlpozziLaPresse via AP)