Germany?s Andreas Kloden is the new leader of the Tirreno-Adriatico cycling race after the decisive mountain stage to San Giacomo on Monday.
Italy?s Matteo Bono of the Lampre team won the 162-km stage after being part of the decisive break but Kloden finished ninth and gained vital seconds on previous leader Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner). Kloden now leads the race by three seconds ahead of Kim Kirchen (T-Mobile) with only Tuesday?s final flat stage left to race.
In an impressive display from Astana, Alexandre Vinokourov secured third place overall at 12 seconds, with Schumacher slipping to fourth at 22 seconds.
?It?s a great day for me and the Astana team because if I can keep the lead tomorrow, it?ll be the first big success for the team,? Kloden said.
?We knew we were the strongest team on the climb and so we tried to put Schumacher in trouble. Alexandre Vinokourov attacked first and then when he was pulled back I accelerated and got a gap on Schumacher.?
Despite his strong performance, Kloden claimed he was using Tirreno-Adriatico for training for July?s Tour de France and said he would not ride the Milan-San Remo one-day race next Saturday.
?I?m 31 years-old and Milan-San Remo can be dangerous if you don?t know how to ride it. I?m focusing on the Tour de France this year and so there?s no point in taking any risks,? Kloden said.
?We?re riding Tirreno-Adriatico with most of our Tour de France team. It?s important we learn to race together as a team and what we?ve done at Tirreno-Adriatico shows were already working well.?
23 year-old Italian Matteo Bono?s was the surprise stage winner but continued the impressive run of success from a new generation of young riders already emerging this season. It was the Lampre rider?s first professional but came after strong performance on the toughest stage of Tirreno-Adriatico.
He was part of the ten-rider breakaway that formed after 16kms of the 162-km stage and then attacked alone four kilometres from the summit. He finished 32 seconds ahead of Enrico Gasparotto (Liquigas), with Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) third at 41 seconds.
Tirreno-Adriatico race ends on Tuesday with the 177-km seventh stage from Civitella del Tronto to San Benedetto del Tronto.
Kirchen is only three seconds behind Kloden and there are time bonuses up for grab on the sea front circuit finish but it is likely that the sprinters will dominate the finish before everyone heads north and begins to focus on Saturday?s Milan-San Remo.
1 Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre 162km in 4.25.07
2 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Liquigas 0.32
3 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Quickstep-Innergetic 0.41
4 Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Tinkoff Credit Systems 0.45
5 Stéphane Goubert (Fra) Ag2r Prévoyance 0.51
6 Riccardo Riccò (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir 1.32
7 Kim Kirchen (Lux) T-Mobile 1.37
8 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo 1.39
9 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 1.43
10 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Discovery Channel 1.49
1 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana
2 Kim Kirchen (Lux) T-Mobile 0.03
3 Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 0.12
4 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 0.22