Hansen Soloes to Win in Stage 7 of Giro; Intxausti Takes Maglia Rosa
Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) took the sprint for second from Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) at 1:07. Benat Intxausti (Movistar) is the new maglia rosa.
After an early escape by Fabio Taborre (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) was reeled in, Sella, Hansen, Ioannis Tamouridis (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Maarten Tjallingii (Blanco), Dominique Rollin (Francaise des Jeux), and Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM) sallied off of the front. Sella began the day 6:52 down on GC, and when the sextet forged a 7:20 lead, the Italian became the virtual maglia rosa. At that point Vini Fantini-Selle Italia began to chase, although the gap only narrowed dramatically when Katusha joined the Italian squad with 65 km to go.
About halfway through the stage, rain began to fall. Ligthart crashed and had diffiiculty getting his bike repaired by the neutral service car. He needed 10 km to rejoin the break.
When the break reached the summit of the Category 3 Chieti-Pietragossa, with 38 km remaining, the escapees led the bunch by 2:05. On the climb, Hansen and Sella pressed the pace, and on the uncategorized climb of Chieti-Tricalle (142.4 km), the pair dropped their companions. At this point, Sky was leading the peloton.
With 29 km left, Sella crashed on a right-hand turn. Hansen waited for him, and the Italian quickly rejoined him.
With 20 km remaining, Hansen dropped Sella on the Category 3 Santa Maria de Criptis. Five km later, Tanel Kangert (Astana) attacked from the peloton, and Di Luca chased him. The Italian caught the Estonian on the day's last climb, the Category 4 San Silvestro. With nine km left, Hansen led Sella by 1:15, Tangert by 2:50, and the bunch by 3:20.
On the descent, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) crashed. He remounted quickly and got back on. Sella crashed again, and the lead group caught him. Bradley Wiggins (Sky), who had already been dropped, crashed on the descent. He would lose more than a minute to his rivals. Paolini was dropped and Intxausti would take his jersey. Hansen would cruise to victory in the rain.
Hansen came into the stage knowing that it might be one that he could win. "This morning I knew I wanted to be in the breakaway," he said. "This was a stage I had marked, I was very motivated because I thought the escapees could make it to the finish today....In the Giro, there are opportunities for riders like me to try this, but in the Tour we have other goals with Andre Greipel and Jurgen Van den Broeck. Tonight, we'll definitely have a drink."
In the overall, Intxausti leads Nibali by 0:05 and defending champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) by 0:08. Stage 8 will shake up the standings. The rolling, technical 54.8-km individual time trial from Gabicce Mare to Saltara will give strong time trialists and GC contenders such as Hesjedal, Nibali, Evans, and Wiggins a chance to take the maglia rosa or make up lost time. Who will win? Wiggins? Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)? Who will take the maglia rosa? Nibali? Hesjedal? Evans? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!