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The Italians worked over Andreas Kloden (Astana) during the toughest stage of Tirreno-Adriatico on Monday, with Michele Scarponi (Diquigiovanni) winning both the stage and taking the overall lead with just one stage remaining.
Scarponi broke away with Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone) and Liquigas pair Vincenzo Nibali and Ivan Basso on the 14km Sasso Tetto climb just 35km from the finish. They worked well together and distanced Kloden, who finished 1-18 down.
Nibali tried a brave lone move in the final 20km. He caught early breakaway Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel) but was then caught and dropped before the finish. Scarponi looked strong throughout the stage and easily won the uphill sprint to the line in Camerino ahead of Garzelli.
Thanks to his surprisingly strong performance in Sunday?s time trial stage, Scarponi took the race leader?s jersey from Kloden by 1-07. The German slipped down to third place, with Garzelli also moving him past him into second at 25 seconds. Thomas Lovkvist (Columbia) slipped to fourth at 1-10, with Basso fifth overall at the same time.
Like Basso, Scarponi was implicated in Operacion Puerto in 2006 and ten months later he confessed to working with Dr Fuentes. He was banned for two years and made a comeback at the end of the 2008 season.
?It was a difficult moment in my career but I managed to make a comeback thanks to the support of my wife Anna and my family and friends,? Scarponi said.
?I trained hard during the winter and really wanted to do well early in the season. It was a really tough and a very long stage. I thought I?d gone too early when I attacked ten kilometres from the summit of the Sasso Tetto climb but then the other riders came up to me we worked well together and opened a good gap on Kloden.?
Now there?s just the final stage to go but hopefully it won?t be a problem. I?ve got a lot of faith in my Diquigiovanni team mates.?
A LONG HARD DAY IN THE SADDLE
George Hincapie (Columbia) revealed on his twitter feed that he burned a total of 6700kjs during the 234km stage, rode at an average of 290watts for six hours and 45 minutes and did a total of 5200 metres of climbing.
Charly Wegelius (Silence) summed it up a little more succinctly: ?That was a bit much chaps!?
The tough profile of the stage meant that almost half of the peloton finished in a gruppetto more than 30 minutes behind Scarponi.
Wegelius was best Brit in 53rd place at 18-06. Roger Hammond (Cervelo) was 105th at 30-54, Dan Lloyd (Cervelo) was 115 in the same time and Mark Cavendish (Columbia) was 130th, also at 30-54. Steve Cummings (Barloworld) failed to finish along with 2008 winner Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank).
Tirreno-Adriatico stage six results
1. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli 234km in 6-36-12
2. Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone at 1sec
3. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas at 3secs
4. Danilo Di Luca (Ita) LPR Brakes at 1-09
5. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 1-11
6. Julien El Fares (Fra) Cofidis at 1-15
7. Davide Rebellin (Ita) Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli
8. Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Katusha
9. Thomas Lovkvist (Swe) Columbia-Highroad
10. Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini all at same time.
53. Charly Wegelius (GB) Silence-Lotto at 18-06
105. Roger Hammond (GB) Cervelo at 30-54
115. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Cervelo at 30-54
130. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-Highroad at 30-54
DNF Steven Cummings (GB) Barloworld
General classification after stage six
1. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli in 23-27-36
2. Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone at 25secs
3. Andreas Kloden (Ger) Astana at 1-07
4. Thomas Lovkvist (Swe) Columbia-Highroad at 1-10
5. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas at 1-13
6. Davide Rebellin (Ita) Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli at 2-06
7. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Milram at 2-32
8. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Slipstream at 2-33
9. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Columbia-Highroad at 2-41
10. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas at 2-54
65. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Cervelo at 36-43
109. Charly Wegelius (GB) Silence-Lotto at 53-12
121. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-Highroad at 55-33
130. Roger Hammond (GB) Cervelo at 57-12
Vincenzo Nibali aids team-mate Ivan Basso
Ivan Basso in full flight
Michele Scarponi takes the stage win
Michele Scarponi celebrates the stage win and taking the race lead
Stage six: Italians ambush Kloden
Stage five: Kloden takes charge
Stage four: Rodrigueuz wins again on the Mur of Montelupone
Stage three: Farrar beats Cavendish in Tirreno sprint
Stage two: Petacchi wins Tirreno-Adriatico sprint
Stage one: Breakaway surprises the sprinters
Thomas crashes out of Tirreno time trial
Mechanical problem wrecks Cavendish’s Tirreno chances
Preview: Sprinters gather for Tirreno-Adriatico
2009 Tirreno-Adriatico route unveiled
2008: Cancellara wins Tirreno-Adriatico
Cycling Weekly photo gallery