Sebastian Berwick makes Giro d’Italia stage 12 podium, shelves nice guy mode

 Sebastian Berwick (Israel-Premier Tech) leading the break on stage 12 of the Giro d'Italia

Sebastian Berwick (Israel-Premier Tech) leading the break on stage 12 of the Giro d’Italia

Sebastian Berwick made it into the Giro d’Italia break on what, in many ways, was an ideal day as the peloton was strewn with battered riders that seemed content to let the escape settle the stage 12 podium. The flat run to the line that decided the order of those top three places, however, was where the advantage shifted away from the Australian, who as a light rider who favours the ascents was on the back foot against the power of Nico Denz (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Toms Skujinš (Trek-Segafredo).

“That last climb was my last opportunity I guess but in the end, they were strong enough to stay with me,” Berwick said referring to Denz and Skujinš who held firm on the category-2 ascent of Colle Braida which peaked at 28km to go.

Once over the climb the leading trio worked together, but once the race moved into the final 12km Denz went on the attack. Skujinš made it onto his wheel relatively quickly but Berwick was distanced for some time before ultimately fighting his way back to the front of the race. After that he and his team decided enough was enough, the harmony among the leading trio had been broken and Berwick would no longer roll through to the front.

“I know it feels bad to shake your head at these guys but that is …. bike racing man. They get it,” said sports director Sam Bewley in a video from the team car during the stage, which was posted on Twitter. “They understand, they would do the same if they were you.

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“Don’t be afraid to be an arsehole for 7km of your life, mate. You are a … great guy but 7km of being an arsehole, that’s not bad.”

The message from Bewley – which we removed a couple of emphasis adding swear words from – was clear and the expectant looks from the break companions waiting for Berwick to roll through during the final 7km of racing were met with firm and repeated shakes of the head. That didn’t seem to be enough though, so Berwick also delivered a succinct communication of where he stood to his break companions.

“I’m not doing sh**,” said the Australian in a comment that could be heard on the race coverage. It was a clip shared with amusement on social media, including by experienced teammate Daryl Impey, who added that his answer to the roll through requests would have been exactly the same.

Berwick was clearly preserving whatever energy he could ahead of the three-way sprint to the line.

“I didn’t have much in the sprint obviously,” said Berwick in a team statement. “58kg vs 75kg, it’s a bit hard to win but I kept fighting, it’s a Giro stage and I was in the hunt for the win so you never know what happens. Steven Bradbury and all that.”

There was, however, no replication of that Bradbury moment when the Australian speed skater won gold at the Winter Olympic Games by virtue of doing well enough to make it to the final but being far enough behind all his rivals during it that he avoided a mass pile up.

Berwick came to the line in Rivoli with Denz and Skujinš and tried to leap first to burn off his rivals but was swamped. He had to settle for third, still it was a podium result at his first Giro d’Italia, making it three for the team so far.

“We will go again tomorrow,” said Berwick. “Two seconds and a third place now. We are fighting for that win and we hope it comes soon.”

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