Francisco Ventoso of Movistar won Stage 6 of the 2011 Giro d'Italia in the spa town of Fiuggi Terme in the hills east of Rome today, with points classification leader Alessandro Petacchi of Lampre-ISD seeming to run out of steam with the line just metres away. Roberto Ferrari of Androni Giocattoli was third. Raobank's Pieter Weening retains the race leader's maglia rosa.
Today's sprint finish came despite the efforts of a number of riders to break off the front of the main group in the closing kilometres, as well an attempt by Quickstep's Kristof Vandewalle, the lone survivor of the day's breakaway, to go for a solo victory, but he was swept up by the peloton with less than 2km still to ride.
The 26-year-old Belgian had got clear with two other escapees early on in today's 216km stage, his colleagues in the break being Colnago-CSF Inox rider Sacha Modolo and Jussi Veikkanen from Omega Pharma-Lotto.
Two other riders subsequently joined the escape, with Vandewalle, who is making his debut in the Giro, riding away from that pair, RadioShack’s Yaroslav Popovych and Frederik Veuchelen of Vacansoleil, with 10km to go after Modolo and Veikkanen had already been dropped.
Behind him, attack after attack came off the front of the peloton, with the likes of Garmin Cervelo’s David Millar, who lost the maglia rosa yesterday, and BMC’s Mathias Frank among those to have a go as the road headed uphill.
The gradient may not have been anywhere near as steep as those lying in wait in the latter half of this year’s race, but on top of yesterday’s efforts over the strade bianche the relentless upward slope took its toll, with HTC-Highroad's Mark Cavendish one of the big names missing from the finale.
That means that the Manxman will have to wait until Saturday's Stage 8 along the Tyrrenhian coast to have an opportunity to gain revenge on Petacchi after Sunday evening's controversial stage finish in Parma, with Cavendish initially blaming the Italian for riding across his line.
As for the Lampre-ISD rider, he appeared to have today's stage win in his sights as he came out of Ventoso's slipstream with less than 100 metres to go. But whether it was cramp, a mechanical issue or some other problem, Petacchi apparently stopped pedalling for a moment, enough to allow the Spaniard to hold on for the win.
Meanwhile, there has been an update on the condition of the young Rabobank rider Tom Slagter, who fell heavily yesterday as team mate Pieter Weenens headed up the road to take the stage win and maglia rosa.
No-one watching the 21-year-old lying on the ground being treated by doctors as team cars and other riders sped by could have failed to have been reminded of Monday’s scenes following Wouter Weylandt’s crash, although thankfully Slagter was moving and it was soon confirmed that he was conscious and able to talk.
The incident, however, has left him badly injured, with concussion, a broken eye socket and injuries to his face. He was taken to hospital for treatment, and will take no further part in this year’s Giro.
Tomorrow’s Stage 7 sees the first summit finish of the race at Montevergine di Mercogliano near Naples, within sight of Mount Vesuvius.
Giro d’Italia Stage 6 Result 1 VENTOSO Francisco J. Movistar 5:15:39 2 PETACCHI Alessandro Lampre ISD same time 3 FERRARI Roberto Androni Giocattoli " 4 DI LUCA Danilo Katusha " 5 APPOLLONIO Davide Team Sky “ 6 SCARPONI Michele Lampre ISD “ 7 LE MEVEL Christophe Garmin-Cervelo “ 8 CIOLEK Gerald Quickstep “ 9 TIRALONGO Paolo Astana “ 10 MARZOLI Ruggero Acqua & Sapone “ 11 GARZELLI Stefano Acqua & Sapone “ 12 KIRYIENKA Vasili Movistar “ 13 VICIOSO Angel Androni Giocattoli “ 14 LASTRAS GARCIA Pablo Movistar “ 15 MONTAGUTI Matteo AG2R “ 16 NIBALI Vincenzo Liquigas “ 17 MENCHOV Denis Geox TMC “ 18 ARROYO David Movistar “ 19 BRAMBILLA Gianluca Colnago CSF Inox “ 20 SIVTSOV Kanstantsin HTC Highroad “ Giro d’Italia General Classification 1 WEENING Pieter Rabobank 20:15:12 2 SIVTSOV Kanstantsin HTC Highroad at 0:02 3 PINOTTI Marco HTC Highroad 0:02 4 LE MEVEL Christophe Garmin Cervelo 0:05 5 LASTRAS GARCIA Pablo Movistar 0:22 6 NIBALI Vincenzo Liquigas 0:24 7 SCARPONI Michele Lampre ISD 0:26 8 KRUIJSWIJK Steven Rabobank 0:28 9 CONTADOR Alberto Saxo Bank-SunGard 0:30 10 SERPA Jose Androni Giocattoli 0:33
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.