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Australian powers off the front from a long-distance breakaway to win a hugely dramatic stage in which Bradley Wiggins cracks on the wet descents towards the finish

Photo: Sirotti

ADAM HANSEN

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BEÑAT INTXAUSTI

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BRADLEY WIGGINS

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GIRO D'ITALIA

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LOTTO-DSTNY

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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TEAM SKY

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10.05.2013 @ 17:26 Posted by Simon Knudstrup

Adam Hansen saved his Lotto-Belisol team's Giro d'Italia as the Australian soloed off the front from the day's early break and took a hugely impressive solo win in the seventh stage of the Italian grand tour. Behind the wet roads, steep climbs and treacherous descents were the scene of a huge drama as Bradley Wiggins was unable to follow the group of favourites, crashed on the descent and ended up losing more than a minute to his most dangerous rivals. Race leader Luca Paolini (Katusha) finished in the Wiggins group and Benat Intxausti (Movistar) is now in the maglia rosa.

 

In the lead up to the Giro d'Italia many pointed to today's seventh stage as a perfect opportunity to put pre-race favourite Bradley Wiggins and his mighty Sky team under pressure as the numerous steep climbs and descents in the region had seen Vincenzo Nibali crack Chris Froome in a similar stage in the Tirreno-Adriatico. It turned out that Wiggins had every reason to fear the terrain of the Abruzzo region as the Brit ended up losing more than a minute to key rivals Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp).

 

The drama started on the day's penultimate climb when Wiggins gave the first signs of weakness. An acceleration from Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini) and Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) gave way for an attack by Nibali, Michele Scarponi (Lampre) and Robert Kiserlovski (Radioshack). From behind Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini), Wilco Kelderman (Blanco) and Robert Gesink (Blanco) joined while the British Sky leader was nowhere to be seen.

 

More riders managed to gain contact and towards the back end of a long line of riders Wiggins was one of the last to join the move. The Brit was clearly uncomfortable on the short, steep ascents and his rivals sensed that today could be the day to take time out of the favourite.

 

Up ahead Adam Hansen was alone in the lead after he had managed to drop his companions from an early 6-man move and he was chased by his former companion Emanuele Sella (Androni). As they headed down the descent and approached the days' final climb, the Blanco team set the pace in the group of favourites as they tried to stay safe on the wet roads.

 

With 13km to go Nibali indicated that he did not intend to pass up on the opportunity to attack Wiggins as he sent teammate Tanel Kangert up the roads. Danilo Di Luca tried to follow but "the killer" was unable to close the gap. Moments later Eeening, Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani), Simone Stortoni (Lampre) and Kiserlovski also gapped the peloton in a very uncontrollable situation.

 

This was the signal for Nibali to put in his attack and he accelerated on the wet descent with Yury Trofimov (Katusha) in his wheel.  However, disaster struck for the Italian hero when he slid out in a corner and brought down both himself and Trofimov. While the Russian took some time to get back on the bike, the Astana leader remounted quickly and entered the splintering group of favourites which tried to negotiate the treacherous descent safely.

 

Nibali continued to set the pace on the descent and they picked up all riders ahead of them except for Hansen and Sella. When they hit the day's final climb, Kanget took a huge turn on the front and riders dropped off in large numbers.

 

Wiggins was now in a large group with Paolini behind his main rivals and there seemed to be consensus among the favourites that the situation should be exploited. Blanco, Lampre and Astana all did plenty of work on the front in an attempt to take out as much time of the Brit who was being assisted by his teammates Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Uran.

 

At the top he had already lost around 30 seconds but that was just the start of Wiggins' woes. The descent turned into a huge crash festival as riders all over the road slid out on the wet roads.

 

The first to hit the deck was Sella who was caught by the group of favourites just as he remounted from his accident but just a few moments later it was Sir Bradley Wiggins himself who was on the ground. The Tour de France winner was quickly back on his bike but appeared to have almost given up and was almost unable to handle his bikes as he carefully negotiated the numerous corners.

 

Up ahead the victory of Adam Hansen was never in doubt and the Australian took a hugely impressive solo win. Behind the lone Lotto rider Blanco and Lampre both had numerous riders in the group of favourites and they did a huge amount of work to distance Wiggins as much as possible.

 

The group crossed the finish line 1.07 behind Hansen and Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani) beat Di Luca in the sprint for second and thus took away the bonus seconds from the GC riders. Uran and Henao had waited for the British captain and inside the final kilometer they managed to rejoin the big Paolini group. At the line he had, however, lost no less than 1.24 on his main rivals and what looked like a quest to take an early lead in tomorrow's time trial will now more be a mission of getting back lost time.

 

With Paolini and Uran both dropped third placed Benat Intxausti (Movistar) took over the lead from the Italian Katusha rider and he now goes into tomorrow's crucial 54,8km race against the clock in pole position.

 

Starting at 14.15. you can follow all the action on CyclingQuotes.com/live.

 

An aggressive start

Most teams had marked the lumpy 177km stage in the Abrouzzo region out as an obvious opportunity for a successful breakaway and so attacks went thick and fast in the opening part of the race. After 29km of racing 6 riders opened up a gap and as the peloton slowed down Hansen, Sella, Maarten Tjallingii (Blanco), Dominque Rollin (FDJ), Ioannis Tamouridis (Euskaltel) and Pim Lgthart (Vacansoleil) increased their advantage to more than 7 minutes.

 

Behind the Vini Fantini team decided to chase as the squad was on home soil and hoped to shine. For many kilometres Francesco Chicchi and Rafael Andriato managed to keep the gap stable as the peloton rolled along at a modest pace.

 

Ligthart crashes

Up ahead Ligthart crashed on a wet descent but after a long chase he managed to rejoin his the front group. With 72km to go they started the second, hard part of the course which was littered by numerous short, steep climbs and descents.

 

In the peloton Chicchi and Andriato were dropped and for many kilometres the pace was being set by Alessandro Proni and Stefano Garzelli. At some point Katusha even decided to join the pace and Dmitriy Kozontchuk contributed for some time before he also dropped off. The Russian was not the only one to lose contact as many riders had to give up the hope of staying in the peloton which gradually got smaller and smaller.

 

The escape splinters

With 40km to go the break hit the famous city of Chieti with its very steep climbs and the slopes took its toll on the breakaway. Tamouridis was the first to give up and later Rollin, Tjallingii and Ligthart also had to let Sella and Hansen go.

 

The climb was also the place for Vini Fantini to kick into action as Fabio Taborre went off the front in a solo move. He managed to build up a gap of around 30 minutes and was now in lone pursuit of the front duo. Meanwhile, Sky had taken over at the front of the peloton and it was now Kanstantsin Siutsou and later also Salvatore Puccio who tapped along at the steady pace that Wiggins likes.

 

Sella goes down

With 26km to go Sella crashed in a wet corner but he was quickly back on his bike and Hansen decided to wait for his companion. Behind Rollin, Tjallingii and Ligthart chased hard while Taborre had picked up Tamouridis.

 

On the lower slopes of the day's penultimate climb Tamouridis and Taborre were picked up by the peloton and moments later it was also over for the chasing trio. Meanwhile, Hansen dropped Sella and was now alone in the lead.

 

The favourites hesitate

Suddenly Sky gave the first indications of Wiggins' crisis as the stopped their chasing effort and instead it was Christian Vande Velde and even Ryder Hesjedal himself who set the pace. However, no one wanted to really wanted to take responsibility and for a long time the peloton just rolled up the climb while Hansen constantly increased his lead.

 

That leisurely mood all changed when Di Luca and Weening attacked and as Scarponi, Nibali and Kiserlovski kicked into action just moments later, a very dramatic finale of the race started.

 

Result:

1. Adam Hansen 4.35.49

2. Enrico Battaglin +1.07

3. Danilo Di Luca

4. Mauro Santambrogio

5. Damiano Caruso

6. Cadel Evans

7. Stefano Pirazzi

8. Arnold Jeannesson

9. Pieter Weening

10. Ryder Hesjedal

 

General classification:

1. Benat Intxausti 28.30.04

2. Vincenzo Nibali +0.05

3. Ryder Hesjedal +0.08

4. Giampaolo Caruso +0.10

5. Mauro Santambrogio +0.13

6. Cadel Evans +0.16

7. Robert Gesink +0.19

8. Ivan Santaromita +0.28

9. Pieter Weening +0.29

10. Robert Kiserlovki  +0.34

 

Points classification:

1. Mark Cavendish 58

2. Elia Viviani 52

3. Enrico Battaglin 45

4. Cadel Evans 40

5. Adam Hansen 39

 

Mountains classification:

1. Giovanni Visconti 14

2. Emanuele Sella 13

3. Stefano Pirazzi 12

4. Adam Hansen 12

5. Robinson Chalapud 9

 

Youth classification:

1. Rafal Majka 28.31.12

2. Carlos Betancur +0.07

3. Wilco Kelderman +0.47

4. Fabio Aru +1.05

5. Enrico Battaglin +1.21

 

Teams classification:

1. Katusha 84.47.54

2. Blanco +0.19

3. Astana +0.23

4. BMC +1.04

5. Lampre +1.24

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