Francesco Bellotti (Barloworld) took his chances in an escape group on Giro d'Italia's stage from Padova to San Martino di Castrozza, but found the pressure from the chase group behind and Jens Voigt's poker game too much.
"Voigt seemed to be in difficulty, but like always he just continues on," Bellotti told Cyclingnews. "On the last climb the attacks kept coming, I kept going after him, but after a little bit I could not hold."
Bellotti was motivated to join the escape group since the race started near his home in Verona. He joined the six-man move, whose gap dropped back to two from seven minutes before the final 13.75-kilometre San Martino di Castrozza climb, north of Padova.
Saxo Bank's Voigt and Bellotti dropped their last companion, Francesco De Bonis (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli), and started their poker showdown. The duo upped the ante with small digs until a 10-percent section with eight kilometres remaining forced Bellotti to fold his hand.
"He played his game, I thought I had a chance and I also had the maglia verde on my mind," said Bellotti. "I held on my own, but at five kilometres to go it came undone."
Bellotti was satisfied to hear team-mate Mauricio Soler, winner of the Tour de France's mountains classification, attacked in the last two kilometres. He said the team has no problem keeping Soler at the front, but keeping him on his bike is more of a problem. Soler crashed in yesterday's stage to Valdobbiadene.
Bellotti is fourth in the mountains' classification, 10 points behind leader and stage winner Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini).