Giro d’Italia: Adam Hansen takes emotional solo as rain splits up the favourites
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Friday, May 10, 2013

Giro d’Italia: Adam Hansen takes emotional solo as rain splits up the favourites

by Ben Atkins at 11:51 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Race Reports and Results
Wiggins loses more time after coming down in the wet; Intxausti into pink as Paolini dropped

adam hansen

Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) soloed to an emotional victory in the seventh stage of the 2013 Giro d’Italia, between Marina di San Salvo and Pescara, as the last survivor of a group of six riders that escaped early in the day. The Australian went clear of the other four with Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) on the late climbs that peppered the final 50km, then rode away from the Italian with just over 20km to go and managed to hold on to the finish.

Once dropped by Hansen, Sella struggled the chase down the Australian, slid off on a wet hairpin with five kilometres to go, and was caught by the chasing group that contained most of the favourites. Stage four winner Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani-CSF) won the sprint for second place, 1’07” behind the winner, with Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) taking third.

“Today looked like a breakaway stage,” Hansen said afterwards. “I was motivated this morning, and I shaved my head to be ready for it. Getting into the breakaway is one of the hardest things in cycling.

“When we led by 7 minutes I thought there was a chance,” the Australian continued. “When our lead came down, I though there was no chance. Sella was the strongest rider on the climbs. I didn’t think he would expect a rider like me to ride on the climbs. I tried to break him mentally. I was surprised he cracked.

“The whole time I didn’t believe it,” he added. “I thought the bunch would come back. When I heard my lead was still 2 minutes 30 seconds with 6km to go, I thought: ‘it’s real, this time I’m bringing it home.’”

Missing from the chase group was race leader Luca Paolini (Katusha), whose Maglia Rosa passed onto the shoulders of overnight second place Beñat Intxausti (Movistar), who had made it. Also present in the group were most of the overall favourites, including Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) and defending champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp).

Not present, however, was Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), who had crashed on the same corner as Sella and tiptoed down the rest of the descent to finish more than two and a half minutes behind Hansen.

Hansen and Sella escaped with Ioannis Tamouridis (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Maarten Tjallingii (Blanco), Dominique Rollin (FDJ) and Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM) after 30km of the 177km stage. Allowed to gain a maximum of almost seven and a half minutes advantage over the peloton at the midway point, the group was eventually closed down as the local Vini Fantini-Selle Italia team led the chase.

As the wet weather closed in on the race again, however, Sella and Hansen left their four companions behind with just over 35km to go, then Hansen dropped Sella on the penultimate climb with just over 20km left. The rest of the breakaway riders were swept up as a series of counterattacks from the peloton saw the pace pick up behind them, but Hansen managed to hold off the chase to take his first ever Grand Tour stage victory.

Six riders get away on the toughest stage so far

Stage seven was to be the toughest day yet as the Giro continued its journey up the eastern Adriatic coast. Unlike the day before the stage route would turn inland, climbing a multitude of the region’s short, sharp climbs - although the first to be categorised would come with just over 50km to go - before plummeting to the coast for a finishing straight that would suit sprinters; had any of them managed to make it that far.

After an early, solo attack from Fabio Taborre (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) was pulled back, the six-man group of Sella, Tamouridis, Tjallingii, Rollin, Hansen and Ligthart finally got away after 30km. By the 50km point they were six minutes clear as the peloton relaxed its chase. Vini Fantini-Selle Italia - the local team that had missed the break - was leading the peloton behind the group but, with 90km to go - as the leaders rode through the feedzone - the gap had gone up to over seven minutes.

Persistent showers had made the roads slippery and Ligthart crashed on a descent shortly afterwards as he slid out on the inside of a hairpin bend. The former Dutch champion then had a problem with his bike and - with the neutral service trying to fix it with his Vacansoleil-DCM team car delayed - he seemingly had very little chance of joining his five breakaway companions again.

Having finally got restarted, however, Ligthart chased alone for more than ten kilometres before successfully rejoining, having his gashed elbow treated by the race doctor on the way.

Having passed through the feedzone - which saw the break’s advantage reach its maximum of 7’20” - the Vini Fantini-Selle Italia team set about closing the break down. It wasn’t until Katusha came forward to lend a hand with 65km to go that the gap began to significantly close, however.

The increase in pace saw many of the overall favourites move to the front with their teams, with BMC Racing, Team Sky and Astana bringing Cadel Evans, Bradley Wiggins and Vincenzo Nibali forward respectively.

Vini Fantini-Selle Italia had retaken sole control of the front of the peloton and, with 55km to go had slashed the gap to four minutes. Up ahead Sella jumped away from the others to take the mountain points over the 4th category climb to Villamagna with 52.4km to go, and the peloton followed just 3’14” later.

Attacks from the peloton begin as the proper climbs kick in

Sella and Rollin were pushing the pace on the 3rd category Chieti-Pietragrossa, with its gradients of up to 16%, but the others managed to hold their wheels. Behind them Taborre attacked from the peloton under the 40km to go banner, as Team Sky took over at the head of the peloton.

As riders were steadily dropping off the back of the peloton Evans was being paced up to the front, having reportedly changed his shoes just before the climb started. Team Sky eased up the pace, however, when a low speed tangle between three of its riders - including Wiggins and Rogoberto Urán - saw Urán keel over. The Colombian was quickly back up again, apparently unhurt.

Sella led over the top with 38.2km to go, with the peloton now at 2’05”.

The even steeper climb - whose gradients reached 19% - to the Traguardo Volante sprint, in Chieti-Tricalle with 34.6km, saw Hansen and Sella drop the rest. The Australian was first over the line; the other four breakaways followed shortly afterwards, with Taborre at 2’09”, but the Sky-led peloton was just 13 seconds behind the Italian.

Rain was beginning to fall again, making the roads slick on the tight descent that followed, which saw Sella come down on a sharp right hander with 29km to go. He was up quickly and chasing back up to Hansen - who was waiting for him - and the two riders continued.

The delay saw Rolland, Ligthart and Tjallingii get a little closer, while Taborre - who tiptoed around Sella’s corner - caught up with Tamouridis and was also getting closer.

At the more conventional Traguardo Volante, in Chieti Scalo with 26.1km, the trio was 46 seconds behind as Hansen rolled over to take the points. Taborre and Tamouridis were still 2’13” back, while the peloton was now at 3’07”, having taken no risks on the descent.

Onto the 3rd Santa Maria de Criptis - with its sections of 18% - Hansen and Sella still led, as the chasers began to split up behind them. Garmin-Sharp had moved the head of of the peloton, with defending champion Ryder Hesjedal showing himself but, as the climb began in ernest, Blanco took over.

Hansen goes alone as the weather closes in again

Tamouridis was the first rider to be caught while, up ahead, Hansen left Sella behind on the steepest section and - over the top with 19.7km to go - he was more than half a minute clear of the Italian.

Guillaume Bonnafond (AG2R La Mondiale) attacked from the peloton, and the Blanco riders watched him go. The Frenchman was soon reeled in, however, as Danilo Di Luca attacked past him. The “Killer” was joined by Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida), but had the rest of the peloton on his tail as he caught with Taborre shortly before the summit.

The rain was beginning to fall more heavily as Hansen was powering along, alone at the head of the race with Sella trying to haul him back. The peloton was now at 2’20”, but the Blanco team was pushing the pace; Wiggins was at the back of the peloton and looking unhappy on the fast, wet roads.

Tanel Kangert (Astana) attacked from the peloton under the 15km to go banner, passing Rollin and Tjallingii as he did so, and was chased by Di Luca, but the Vini Fantini-Selle Italia rider was having trouble getting on terms with the Estonian champion.

Onto the 4th category San Silvestro with nine kilometres to go Hansen was 1’15” clear of the still-chasing Sella, while the peloton was at 3’20” with Kangert 30 seconds ahead of it.

Kangert passed Ligthart, and Di Luca joined the Dutchman at the foot of the climb, along with Simone Stortoni (Lampre-Merida) and several others.

On the short descent that begun the climb Nibali slid off on a wet corner and, as he slid across the road, also brought down Yuriy Trofimov (Katusha). Both were quickly up and chasing, however, and were soon back in the main group.

Hansen was struggling now, but crested the top with 7.4km to go still more than a minute ahead of Sella. Stefano Pirazzi (AG2R La Mondiale) Hesjedal, then Evans, led the remains of the peloton over the top after two minutes, while Wiggins and his Sky domestiques were around 30 seconds behind them.

Sella crashed again on a soaking wet hairpin with around five kilometres to go, and was caught and passed by the chasing group. Wiggins in his chasing group then came off on the same corner and, once upright again tiptoed down the remainder of the descent as he waited for teammates Urán and Sergio Henao to drop back.

Hansen meanwhile was still powering towards the finish and, as the rain was falling heavily on the Pescara finishing straight, he punched the air emotionally as he took the line.

Blanco was driving the head of the chasing group, which now contained just 27 riders but Battaglin powered past them in the final metres to take second place, 1’07” behind Hansen. Paolini was missing from the group, having been dropped on the final climb, along with second place Urán, who had waited for Wiggins, so the Maglia Rosa passed to third place Intxausti, who had made it.

Riders followed the big group over in ones and twos, while the group containing Paolini and Wiggins followed over after 2’31”, with the overnight Maglia Rosa and the Tour de France champion slipping out of the top-20. Urán - having spent the last kilometres chasing on Wiggins’ behalf - lost a further 12 seconds and also slipped out of contention.

Result stage 7
1. Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto-Belisol
2. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox @ 1’07”
3. Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
4. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
5. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
6. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
7. Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
8. Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ
9. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge
10. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp

Standings after stage 7
1. Beñat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar Team
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Team Astana @ 5s
3. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp @ 8s
4. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling @ 10s
5. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia @ 13s
6. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team @ 16s
7. Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling @ 19s
8. Ivan Santaromita (Ita) BMC Racing Team @ 28s
9. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge @ 29s
10. Robert Kiserlowski (Cro) RadioShack-Leopard @ 34s


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