By Nigel Wynn
Giro d'Italia 2012 stage seven photo gallery by Graham Watson>>
Ryder Hesjedal has moved into the overall lead of the 2012 Giro d'Italia after the race's first 'mountain-top' finish on Saturday to become the first Canadian to wear the race's coveted pink leader's jersey.
The Garmin-Barracuda rider finished in fifth place on the seventh stage to Rocca di Cambio behind winner Paolo Tiralongo (Astana). The Italian came around defending champion Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) in the finale to take the victory.
Overnight race leader Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD) finished well out of the top order.
After a week of flat stages and time trials, the 205-kilometre stage from Recanati gave the overall favourites their first chance to test their mountain legs - and check out the form of the opposition.
On today's showing, Scarponi looks to be lodging a serious challenge to win this year's race after inheriting last year's title from Alberto Contador, whose win was annulled as a result of a doping suspension.
Scarponi launched a final kilometre attack in a bid for the win, with only Tiralongo reacting to the move on the steep ascent. Scarponi led the way until the final 100 metres, only to watch Tiralongo come around him to snatch the win... and then collapse on the floor with exhaustion.
An early break consisting of Fumi Beppu (Orica-GreenEdge), Reto Hollenstein (NetApp), Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini) and Mirko Selvaggi (Vacansoleil-DCM) had built up a lead of around nine minutes during the day. Rabottini was the final escapee to get swept up by the bunch before they hit the final climb.
Hesjedal now heads the classification with an advantage of 15 seconds over Tiralongo, with Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) at 17 seconds. Also moving up in the top ten are pre-race favourites Roman Kreuziger (Astana) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas) in seventh and eighth respectively.
Hesjedal's Garmin team-mate Peter Stetina kept hols of the white jersey of best young rider after finishing in the chase group 11 seconds behind Tiralongo. The young American is fifth overall, giving the US-based team plenty to celebrate after winning the team time trial and having Ramunas Navardauskas in the lead the following day.
Sky challenger Rigoberto Uran finished in the same group as Stetina, and is now 15th overall at 53 seconds. Earlier in the day, double stage winner Mark Cavendish had swapped to a support role for Uran and fellow Colombian Sky rider Sergio Henao, collecting bottles from the team car.
The race continues its excursion in the hills with a leg-sapping 229-kilometre stage from Sulmona to Lago Laceno, finishing with a rise up the second category climb of Colle Molella before a short descent to the line. Stage eight preview>>
Giro d'Italia 2012, stage seven: Recanati to Rocca di Cambio, 205km
1. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana in 5-51-03
2. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD at same time
3. Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan at 3 secs
4. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at same time
5. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Barracuda at 5 secs
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago-CSF Inox at 9 secs
7. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha
8. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at same time
9. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 11 secs
10. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Colnago-CSF Inox at same time
Overall classification after stage seven
1. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Barracuda in 26-16-53
2. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana at 15 secs
3. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 17 secs
4. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Barracuda at 21 secs
5. Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Barracuda at 26 secs
6. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha at 26 secs
7. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana at 35 secs
8. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 40 secs
9. Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha at 45 secs
10. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 46 secs
Fumi Beppu (right) heads the day's big escape
Brit Ian Stannard's got bottle
Paolo Tiralongo celebrates the stage win
Ryder Hesjedal takes the pink jersey
Giro d'Italia 2012: Latest news
Sky's Giro team time trial disappointment
Phinney's terrible day sees Giro lead slip away
Teams ready for Giro's team time trial
Phinney given all-clear after Giro crash
Ferrari should be ashamed of Giro sprint, says Cavendish
Giro remembers Wouter Weylandt
Cavendish and Thomas a winning combo, says Brailsford
Geraint Thomas narrowly misses out on Giro lead
Phinney realises Giro dream
Giro d'Italia 2012: Live coverage
Giro d'Italia 2012 live text coverage schedule
Giro d'Italia 2012: Stage reports
Stage six: Rubiano solos to epic Giro stage win
Stage five: Cavendish bounces back for another stage win
Stage four: Garmin-Barracuda win TTT to take lead
Stage three: Goss wins in Horsens as Cavendish and Phinney crash
Stage two: Cavendish wins in Herning
Stage one: Phinney wins time trial
Giro d'Italia 2012: Photo galleries
Stage six photo gallery
Stage five photo gallery
Stage four photo gallery
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one photo gallery
Giro d'Italia 2012: Teams and riders
Giro d'Italia 2012 start list
Giro d'Italia 2012: TV guide
Giro d'Italia 2012: British Eurosport TV schedule
Giro d'Italia 2012: The Big Preview
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