First mountain test for Giro contenders

Bosisio wins while Visconti holds on to Maglia Rosa

By Shane Stokes in Pescocostanzo, Italy

After two days of shadowing each other, the race favourites finally threw down the gauntlet on Friday's 180 kilometre stage seven to the summit finish of Pescocostanzo in the Giro d'Italia. Defending champion Danilo Di Luca is from the area and had indicated days beforehand that he wanted to win, but instead it was his LPR Brakes team-mate and winner of the Giro d'Oro Gabriele Bosisio who triumphed. The 27 year-old won ahead of Bielorussia's Vasil Kiryienka (Tinkoff Credit Systems), Italy's Emanuele Sella (CSF Group Navigare) and Colombia's Félix Rafael Cárdenas (Barloworld).

The Italian was part of a large break which went clear very early in the day and he, Kiryienka, Sella and Rafael Cárdenas turned the screw on the day's penultimate climb of Pietransieri.

Cárdenas was dropped inside the final ten kilometres, Sella suffered a flat tyre and Bosisio shed Kiryienka to finish 46 seconds clear. Behind, Di Luca, Riccardo Riccò, Leonardo Piepoli (both Saunier Duval - Scott) and 2007 Tour de France champion Alberto Contador (Astana) rocketed clear of the other favourites and finished in that order, with Di Luca and Riccò crossing the line two minutes and four seconds behind Bosisio and the other two three and six seconds back, respectively.

Race leader Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) was dropped on the climb and conceded one minute and 48 seconds to Di Luca, but had enough time in hand to hold on to the maglia rosa. What's more, he extended his lead over Matthias Russ (Gerolsteiner) to nine seconds. The 25 year-old Visconti finished four minutes back from the winner.

"We didn't know that this break would take so much time, it was a surprise for us," said an elated Bosisio after the stage. "When I was in it, Di Luca asked me if my legs were okay. I said yes, so they let me make my race. They were very confident with me today."

He was asked about the fact that he won, thus denying Di Luca the chance to triumph in his local region. Bosisio said that the team's plan changed during the stage and the leader was happy with the final outcome. "It is true that Danilo wanted to win this stage but he has a bigger project, to win the Giro d'Italia," he said. "There was no problem, I had to go in the break this morning. Then Di Luca was to attack in the final of the stage. So we did as we were supposed to do.

"He let me ride for the win and I think he is happy with the result. Also he is satisfied because he realised his form is okay as he rode well. Now I will help him, the Giro is long."

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