Italian Michele Scarponi saved his overall lead at Tirreno-Adriatico today in Macerata, Italy, but by a hair. He lost ground in the finale metres, blaming Australian Michael Rogers for the time loss to Stefano Garzelli.
"It's one thing to lose a race if you don't have the strength," Scarponi said, "but it's another if it is the mistake of another."
Russian Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha) won the stage after escaping in the last eight kilometres from an escape group with Sky's Thomas Löfkvist. Behind, though, the general classification favourites were watching each other ahead of the final ramp to Macerata's Piazza della Libertà.
Alessandro Ballan pulled for BMC team-mate Cadel Evans. Evans, only 14 seconds back in the classification watched Scarponi and Garzelli, at 10 seconds back. Garzelli and Evans dropped the blue jersey leader, attacking on the narrow streets in the final 500 metres. Scarponi, though, claims he was distanced because of Rogers.
"Rogers let the gap open," Scarponi continued. "He went into the last corner with too much speed, braked and nearly took me out. Hah, maybe Garzelli paid off Rogers!"
Rogers only suffered from unfamiliarity with the final corner and was likely not plotting against Scarponi. In the three previous circuits, the riders skirted around the piazza on different roads.
Evans and Garzelli only took two seconds on Scarponi, but with time bonus, Evans at 12 seconds back and Garzelli two.
Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) will likely help team Androni's Scarponi win his second Tirreno in-a-row tomorrow. He and the other sprinters face the last stage and the last chance for a win prior to Milan-San Remo in four days times.
"An escape will likely go and eat up the bonuses," said Scarponi. "Then it will be the time for the sprinters, but if Garzelli goes I can handle him."
"It's not over," Garzelli responded. "Two seconds is nothing."
Tirreno-Adriatico 2010, stage six: Montecosaro-Macerata
1. Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha 134km in 3-18-09
2. Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone at 5secs
3. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team at same time
4. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank at 7secs
5. Benoit Vaugrenard (Fra) Francaise des Jeux
6. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
7. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia at same time
8. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre at 9secs
9. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago-CSF Inox at 11secs
10. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Caisse d'Epargne at same time
77. Ian Stannard (GB) Team Sky at 10-52
132. Roger Hammond (GB) Cervelo at 17-25
141. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Columbia at 17-25
145. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervelo at 17-25
Overall classification after stage six
1. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli in 26-59-00
2. Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone at 2secs
3. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team at 12secs
4. Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana at 22secs
5. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank at 27secs
6. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia at 29secs
7. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago-CSF Inox at 33secs
8. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo at 42secs
9. Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre at 1-04
10. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre at 1-07
76. Roger Hammond (GB) Cervelo at 41-07
114. Ian Stannard (GB) Team Sky at 1-08-58
136. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervelo at 1-24-09
151. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Columbia at 1-43-14
Stage five: Evans foiled in Tirreno stage but mounts classification fight
Stage four: Scarponi's mountain stage win timed to perfection
Stage three: Bennati crowns a great day for Liquigas
Stage two: Boonen wins sprint and becomes San Remo favourite
Stage one: Gerdemann is back, and with good timing
Farrar watching Cavendish ahead of Milan-San Remo
Cavendish getting better but still not that confident
Tirreno-Adriatico 2010: The Big Preview
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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