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Superman López fires warning shot

Miguel Angel Lopez recovers 28 seconds on stage 12 of the Giro d'Italia after attacking with Mikel Landa. But, having suffered loses earlier in the race, his gains are also psychological

PINEROLO, Italy (VN) — Miguel Angel López (Astana) has pulled back 28 seconds on his general classification rivals, ahead of the Giro d’Italia hitting his natural habitat in the high mountains.

‘Superman’, third overall in 2018, punctured at the base of the Montoso climb during Thursday’s twelfth stage in the foothills of the Alps. He raced back, attacked, and attacked again. The second one drew out Mikel Landa (Movistar Team) and the duo rode clear.

“We thought it’d be more, but it could’ve been less,” Astana team manager Giuseppe Martinelli told VeloNews. “It’s important, though, to give a sign – which was a good one. And think: he punctured ahead of that climb. He worked to re-enter. And when he did, he attacked. I think this is important for the coming stages.”

Jan Polanc (UAE-Emirates) took the race lead today thanks to an escape, but it is Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) in second who is highest placed of the race favorites. He is 1:44 ahead of Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), has 1:55 on Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), 2:53 on Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), and 3:46 on Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott). López is 4:01 down and Landa sits at 4:24 behind Roglic.

The hard fight over 34 kilometers was worth it in Martinelli’s eyes, even for 28 seconds.

“We just went out to race, and then in the evening we look at the gains, or losses. Today I think was important for the team’s morale to see that they are there on the first climb; [that] they attack. It’s a positive sign for López himself.

“You just add it up at the end of the day; it could be one minute, 30 seconds, or nothing,” Martinelli added. “Many times you race for nothing, but he didn’t use much energy because he had two teammates working for him.”

The big mountain stages start tomorrow. The peloton will race Friday to finish above 2200 meters at Lago Serrù – where rain and 45°F temperatures are expected.

“I think there’s going to be a shake up,” said Martinelli. “It’s a summit finish, I hope the leaders make a race.

“I saw that Nibali is racing seriously and can win this Giro,” he added. “Roglic today was pretty hidden with very little team around him. I saw a good Landa and Majka.

“Yates, I saw that at one point he pulled, but I don’t know. I think that he is still thinking about last year and how he spent too much energy in the first weeks…

“Today, Landa and Majka came to the fore. And Vincenzo – who’s racing well, racing to win it.”

Martinelli, who won the Giro with riders from Marco Pantani to Nibali, promised more of what fans saw today – attacks.

“Our goal is to fight until the end and try to win this Giro,” he said. “We know that there are still many climbs left, so we’ll play our part. But between today and tomorrow, the Giro’s going to open up.”