Michele Scarponi took Tirreno-Adriatico stage six and captured the overall race leader's jersey Monday. The Italian of Diquigiovanni finished the 235-kilometre stage from Civitanova Marche to Camerino ahead of Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas).
Scarponi now leads the general classification over Garzelli and overnight race leader Andreas Klöden (Astana). The German, 2007 race winner, lost 1:18 on the mountain stage.
"An incredible win," said Scarponi, who lives in Le Marche's Jesi. "Basso was going so strong and it was difficult. I had to hold on and it worked."
Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini) finished in fourth at 1:09 behind the winning trio. He led home the shattered group of Andreas Klöden (Astana).
Tirreno's tough one
Tirreno's toughest day consisted of two categorised climbs – Cingoli (km 74) and Sasso Tetto (192) – and many unclassified ascents. An escape of four – Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil), Paolo Longo Borghini (Barloworld) and Martyn Maaskant (Garmin-Slipstream) – went soon after the departure in Civitanova Marche.
Martínez, winner of last year's País Vasco mountains classification, went over the 598-metre Cingoli first. The escape carried on with an average speed just over 35. At the base of Sasso Tetto only Martínez and Carrara remained to confront the 14.65-kilometres climb after almost five hours of racing.
The Liquigas- and LPR-led group started the climb 7:05 later. Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini) attacked with more than eight kilometres to climb. His move brought on the acceleration of Michele Scarponi (Diquigiovanni-Androni), who was racing on home roads. He caught and passed Di Luca in pursuit of the Martínez group five minutes up the road.
The gruppo blew apart with Basso, Nibali and Garzelli at the head. They drove up the slopes where fresh snow fell last night. The trio picked up Scarponi then early escapees Maaskant and Longo Borghini.
Klöden, in the race leader's blue top, lost around a minute two kilometres later; he followed in a group of seven that included Simoni and Pellizotti.
Martínez then Carrera led over the 1455-metre Sasso Tetto climb 2:16 ahead of the Scarponi group led by Nibali. Klöden's group followed at 1:16.
The Scarponi group caught Carrera on the descent – Martínez was the only rider left of the original escape. In San Lorenzo al Lago, at the base with 27 kilometres to race, Martínez held 2:35 and 3:50 over the Scarponi and Klöden groups, respectively.
The Klöden group consisted of David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne), Arnaud Coyot (Caisse d'Epargne), Vasil Kiryienka (Caisse d'Epargne), Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne), Maxim Iglinsky (Astana), Tadej Valjavec (AG2R La Mondiale), Simoni, Davide Rebellin (Diquigiovanni-Androni), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Slipstream), Pellizotti, Di Luca, Daniele Pietropolli (LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini), Thomas Lövkvist (Columbia-Highroad) and Kanstantsin Siutsou (Columbia-Highroad).
Nibali attacked from the Scarponi group on the decent of Cicconi, around 15 kilometres remaining. The Italian went in pursuit of Martínez and the race's overall victory. Teammate Basso stopped contributing to the pacemaking behind.
Scarponi led the chase over the next five kilometres to catch Nibali and then Martínez at the base of Colle Santa Barbara, 9.6 kilometres remaining. Nibali was unable to keep pace in the new group of four - Scarponi, Basso, Garzelli and Martínez. They held 2:18 on Klöden's group.
Basso lifted the pace at the speed on the four kilometres up to Camerino to vie for the stage win. He dropped Martínez, but Garzelli and Scarponi held on to the Liquigas rider. Scarponi came to the front after the final 12% punch at 150 metres remaining. Garzelli followed and Basso drifted slightly off for third in the stage.
"I heard some criticism after the time trial yesterday," said Basso. "I am very relaxed and Tirreno-Adriatico is going very well for me, I think I proved that today."
Sanremo minus four days
The final stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico tomorrow will be one for the sprinters. The 169-kilometre run around San Benedetto del Tronto should not affect the overall, but be a final test for the Milano-Sanremo, four days later.