May 19, 2016

BIBIONE, Italy (AP) German rider Andre Greipel sprinted to his third stage win in the Giro d'Italia on Thursday then abandoned the race, while Bob Jungels had little trouble holding onto the overall lead during the 12th stage.

Cranking his pedals in high gear, Greipel surged in front on the final straight of the entirely flat 182-kilometer (113-mile) leg from Noale to Bibione, which is near Venice, crossing the line in over four hours.

Earlier, Greipel announced he would leave the Giro after the stage, which was one of the final winning opportunities for sprinters.

Greipel was wearing the red jersey for leading the points competition that usually determines the best sprinter in the race.

''I'm not happy to pull out of the Giro with the red jersey,'' Greipel said. ''But before the Giro, the plan was fixed to leave after the 12th stage.''

It was Greipel's 20th stage win in a Grand Tour - six at the Giro, 10 at the Tour de France, and four in the Spanish Vuelta.

Caleb Ewan finished second and Giacomo Nizzolo was third, both with the same time as Greipel.

Jungels, a Dutch rider with the Etixx-Quick Step team, leads by 24 seconds from Andrey Amador, with Amador's Movistar teammate, Alejandro Valverde, third, 1:07 behind.

In a stage that was marked by heavy rain except for at the finish, a long breakaway featuring Mirco Maestri and Daniel Oss was caught by the peloton with 20 kilometers (12 miles) to go.

The stage ended with two laps of an eight-kilometer (five-mile) circuit that featured sharp turns before a 300-meter straight line to the finish.

As soon as the main pack entered the circuit, Greipel's Lotto Soudal team moved to the front and set a blistering pace, then peeled off one by one before it was just Juergen Roelandts and Greipel at the last corner.

''It was already quite strong of the team to keep me there at the front and still be there for the leadout,'' Greipel said.

''The plan was Roelandts would hit the last corner first, and leave a little bit of a gap and then I could accelerate in his slipstream. It worked out really good. I wanted to do the sprint from the corner and I'm happy that it worked out like that.''

The serious mountain stages begin on Friday with a 170-kilometer (106-mile) leg from Palmanova to Cividale del Friuli.

''I'm not sure what to expect,'' Jungels said of the mountains. ''My shape is good, but I'm not getting carried away. After all, this is my debut Giro. As I said earlier this week, I will take it day by day and see what happens. All that came and will come since taking the pink jersey is a bonus.''

On Saturday, the race's ''queen'' stage features six classified climbs - including the Passo Pordoi, the Passo Sella, and the Passo Giau - on a spectacular 210-kilometer (131-mile) route through the heart of the Dolomite Range from Alpago to Corvara.

On Sunday, there's an 11-kilometer (7-mile) mountain time trial from Castelrotto to Alpe di Siusi.

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