Joaquin Rodriguez shot clear to win Tirreno-Adriatico’s sixth stage to Offida today. Hot on his heels, Vincenzo Nibali sprinted for second and an important six-second bonus.
“I have good form, I’m hoping to win,” overall leader, Chris Horner said. “I hope to go home the first American winner of Tirreno-Adriatico.”
Three cyclists are within six seconds in the classification: Horner leads by five over Roman Kreuziger and six over Nibali. They will fight for the overall title and trident trophy in Tuesday’s final stage, a 9.3-kilometre time trial San Benedetto del Tronto.
Rodriguez took the maximum time bonus, 10 seconds. Nibali in second gained an important six and Danilo Di Luca, in third, took four.
A seven-man escape stayed free until 5.5 kilometres to race. Prior to its formation, Mark Cavendish featured in a separate escape group. He later abandoned the race with Bernard Eisel to prepare for Milan-San Remo on Saturday.
The announcer said, “Che finale!” when an elite group entered the final four kilometres and top of the steep ramp leading into Offida’s medieval centre. Nibali chased down an attack, marked by Horner. Di Luca took over with Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) on his wheel.
Peter Sagan, stage four winner, took charge with three kilometres to race for Liquigas team-mate Nibali. Christophe Riblon (Ag2r) attacked, Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago-CSF Inox) chased and Sagan kept watch. Only Rodríguez slipped Sagan’s grip at 600 metres remaining.
“200 metres more and they would’ve caught me,” Rodriguez explained. “I played my one card; I only had one death blow available.”
Team Katusha first worked for Rodriguez’s team-mate and three-time world champ, Oscar Freire. But Freire, nearing the final of 181 kilometres, told Rodriguez that he was not as his best for the finish today.
Horner has had a couple of difficult days in the leader’s blue jersey. Nibali won the stage yesterday to Prati di Tivo and took 22 seconds on his rival. Today, he gained another six. What started as 34-second lead over Nibali, is only six seconds now.
“Nibali was good yesterday and today,” Horner said. “I fear Kreuziger the most in the final time trial.”
Nibali thinks Kreuziger will give him more problems than 40-year-old Horner.
“Horner’s showed many times that he knows how to go strongly. He’s still going well, even today,” Nibali explained. “I’m worried more about Kreuziger, he’s always gone well prologues, time trials. I know him very well, we raced together for a few years.”
The time trial is a straight, out and back time trial along the Adriatic coast. Horner’s RadioShack team-mate, Fabian Cancellara won last year and is a favourite for the stage win.
Tirreno-Adriatico 2012, stage six: Offida to Offida, 181km
1. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
3. Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
4. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan
5. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale
Overall classification after stage six
1. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan
2. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana at 5 secs
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 6 secs
2011 winner Cadel Evans and family at the start
Start in Offida
Mark Cavendish in an early escape group
Vincenzo Nibali attacks
Joaquin Rodriguez takes a solo win
Chris Horner celebrates his continued lead in the race
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