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Giro d’Italia stage 6: Ale-Jet runs out of gas as Ventoso wins uphill drag

Stage 6: Orvieto to Fiuggi, 216km

Movistar‘s Francisco Ventoso outlasted Alessandro Petacchi to claim victory at the end of an attritional and constantly undulating day which concluded with a long 11km uphill drag to the finish in Fiuggi. It was the Spanish sprinter’s second career Grand Tour victory, five years after his first at the Vuelta a España. The top of the general classification was unchanged as the big contenders enjoyed a relatively easy day in the saddle. Pieter Weening retained the maglia rosa for a second day.

The stage continued the peloton’s journey south, passing close to Rome as the day’s route took them through the Lazio region. With the first major mountain stage tomorrow the up-and-down profile, including just one minor categorised climb, was well suited to a breakaway group, and five men broke free within the first ten kilometres. RadioShack‘s Yaroslav Popovych was the highest placed, 5:35 adrift of Weening, and he was joined by Kristof Vandewalle (Quick Step), Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF Inox), Jussi Veikkanen (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil). The escapees built a lead of around 5:45 before first Weening’s Rabobank team and then the fluorescent yellow of Farnese Vini decided enough was enough and drove the peloton forward.

Inside the last 50km, first Modolo and then Veikkanen dropped off the lead group, leaving just the trio of Popovych, Vandewalle and Veuchelen to hold the closing pack at bay. But with the Lampre and Movistar teams of Petacchi and Ventoso adding their support to the chase, it was always a matter of when rather than if the catch was completed.

Ventoso held off Petacchi to win stage six (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

With 9km to go, Vandewalle made one last solo attempt for victory, riding away from the other two. But as a series of isolated attacks were launched and then chased down in the peloton, they continued to close inexorably on the lone leader, and he was finally caught with 1.5km remaining. Despite the steady nature of the climb, the cumulative effect of a long day of constant ascending and descending took its toll on virtually all the sprinters, and as the pack entered the final kilometre the sprinters’ teams were all down to their last couple of men. Katusha‘s Danilo Di Luca made one big effort to race clear, but he didn’t have the legs to outwit the tiring bunch. Danilo Hondo piloted Petacchi into position, but as he and Ventoso accelerated for the line the Italian appeared to completely run out of steam and, realising he could not catch his rival, stopped pedalling and cruised across.

The difficulty of the finish was evident as both Ventoso and Petacchi dismounted immediately after the finish line and slumped to the ground, exhausted.

Once he had recovered his breath, Ventoso said:

It was very, very long and very, very hard. I’m happy to beat Petacchi, who rode well today.

I had this stage marked with an ‘X’ because I knew the uphill would favor me, but I thought Petacchi was going to get it. I followed his wheel up the climb. He cracked with 20 meters to go and I was able to win.

Petacchi was nonetheless proud to even be second on a finishing climb which eliminated virtually every other sprinter from contention:

After 10km of climbing, even if it was manageable, for me to do a sprint like that in a place like this was very difficult.

Then Di Luca went very hard and I took [Borut] Božič’s wheel. I thought he was the man to beat as he still had teammates up there. I let Ventoso come past initially as I had already made the effort to follow Di Luca, but then I went. Ventoso always had a little bit more. On the climb he probably used up less energy.

I’m very happy with my result today. I honestly didn’t expect to do the sprint today, so I think I’ve done something quite different than normal.

With all the leaders finishing safely together, the order at the top of the general classification remained unchanged. Yesterday’s winner Weening leads the HTC-Highroad duo of Marco Pinotti and Kanstantsin Sivtsov by two seconds, with major contenders Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Sungard), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) all safely ensconced in the top ten within 30 seconds of Weening.

Stage seven from Maddaloni to Montevergine di Mercogliano is the first designated high mountain stage. A short, sharp 110km, it features two second-category climbs. The Serra della Strada comes midway through the stage – 9.5km long with an average gradient of 5.3% and ramps of up to 12%. Then the stage finishes at the summit of the 17.1km Santuario di Montevergine, a steady ascent which averages 5.0% and is sure to encourage repeated attacks from either the contenders or those seeking the glory of a stage victory. Either way, it will be the first real test of who among the top riders has the strongest climbing legs, and will provide a good indication for the biggest climbs still to come.

The shadow boxing is over. The race proper for the maglia rosa begins tomorrow.

Stage 7 profile

Stage 6 result:

1. Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) 5:15:39

2. Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) same time

3. Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli) s/t

4. Danilo Di Luca (Katusha) s/t

5. Davide Appollonio (Sky) s/t

6. Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) s/t

7.Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervélo) s/t

8. Gerald Ciolek (Quick Step) s/t

9. Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) s/t

10. Ruggero Marzoli (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) s/t

General classification:

1. Pieter Weening (Rabobank) 20:15:12

2. Kanstantsin Sivtsov (HTC-Highroad) +0:02

3. Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad) +0:02

4. Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervélo) +0:05

5. Pablo Lastras (Movistar) +0:22

6. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) +0:24

7. Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) +0:26

8. Steven Kruijswijk (Rabobank) +0:28

9. Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Sungard) +0:30

10. José Serpa (Androni Giocattoli) +0:33

Points classification:

1. Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) 48 pts

2. Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervélo) 35

3. Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli) 30

4. Ángel Vicioso (Androni Giocattoli) 28

5. Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) 27

Mountains classification:

1. Martin Kohler (BMC) 10 pts

2. Gianluca Brambilla (Colnago-CSF Inox) 8

3. Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervélo) 5

4. Roman Kreuziger (Astana) 3

5. Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF Inox) 3

Links: Giro d’Italia official websiteSteephill.tv

Giro d’Italia recaps

Stage 1: Pinotti swaps red, white and green for pink

Stage 2: Petacchi celebrates, Cavendish remonstrates in ham-fisted Parma finish

Stage 3: Weylandt’s death casts a long shadow

Stage 4: Peloton rides in tribute to Weylandt

Stage 5: Weening takes maglia rosa as Millar bites the dust

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About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

19 Responses to Giro d’Italia stage 6: Ale-Jet runs out of gas as Ventoso wins uphill drag

  1. Kitty Fondue says:

    Ale-Jet. So why has that nickname caught on? Just wondering …

    Also, do we know if they’re changing the Etna stage or are they going to have to brave the lava?

    • Tim says:

      I don’t know!

      And I don’t know. No one seems to be sure. Etna throwing a minor tantrum is nothing new, apparently. I’ve got mental images of riders finding that their tyres have become stuck to molten lava and having to abandon their bikes and walk to the summit …

  2. Kitty Fondue says:

    The Giro does seem to ask a lot of riders …

    BTW, the new issue of CycleSport has a great interview with Jens Voigt. Unfortunately, it also has Twiggo on the cover. The contrast is amazing between the fierce joy of Jens and the fierce moaning of Brad.

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