Bernal heads to mountains in pink as Nizzolo sprints to 13th stage win

Italy's Giacomo Nizzolo of the Qhubeka team ended his run of 11 second-place finishes in the Giro d'Italia as he sprinted to stage 13 success in Verona on Friday before the race heads for the mountains.

 Giacomo Nizzolo of Team Qhubeka celebrates his win on stage 13 of the Giro d'Italia on 21 May 2021. Picture: @giroditalia/Twitter

VERONA - Italy's Giacomo Nizzolo of the Qhubeka team ended his run of 11 second-place finishes in the Giro d'Italia as he sprinted to stage 13 success in Verona on Friday before the race heads for the mountains.

Egan Bernal of Ineos again held the leader's pink jersey before the feared Monte Zoncolan on Saturday.

"Finally an easy day, tomorrow we have a hard day," said Colombian Bernal, the 2019 Tour de France champion.

"Now we have to start thinking about tomorrow. You never know what can happen, we take no risks.

"It would be special to win atop the Zoncolan but that means controlling the whole peloton, so I'd be happy if I just keep the Maglia Rosa."

Jumbo Visma's Edoardo Affini had looked set to claim victory with 300 metres to go but fellow Italian Nizzolo chased him down to snatch his first stage win.

Slovak Peter Sagan of Bora-Hansgrohe finished third ahead of Italian Davide Cimolai and Colombian Fernando Gaviria.

For European champion Nizzolo it was a 27th career victory but his first on a Grand Tour.

"Finally!" shouted the 32-year-old from Milan who is competing in his eighth Giro.

"I've finally got a stage victory at the Giro! Today I decided to launch a long sprint."

"I chose to risk staying too long in the wind rather than wait for too long behind other riders with the chance of being blocked. My choice paid off."

He was supplying his team with a second win in three days after Swiss Mauro Schmid.

Bernal finished the day in the same time as the leading group including his Russian rival Aleksandr Vlasov, who remains second overall 45sec behind the Colombian.

On Friday, the sprinters had their last chance to impress on the flat over 198km from Ravenna north to Verona.

The stage marked the 700th anniversary of the death of Italian literary giant Dante Alighieri whose tomb is in Ravenna, on the Adriatic coast.

The 14th stage covers 205km from the medieval walled town of Cittadella, in the province of Padua, to Monte Zoncolan in the Carnic Alps.

Zoncolan is one of the toughest climbs in Europe, with a final kilometre with a 14.7 percent gradient to the finish line complicated by forecasts of rainy and cold conditions.

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