Michele Scarponi's fan club had set up camp just four hundred metres from the finish in Castelfidardo, perhaps hoping the Lampre-ISD team leader would win the uphill finish and so give them something to celebrate and down a flew glasses of wine.
Scarponi comes from Filottrano, just a few kilometres deeper into the Marche hills and was hoping to win the stage for his tifosi and also to boost his moral after being unable to stay with Alberto Contador on the climb to Mount Etna.
John Gadret (AG2R-La Mondiale) spoilt Scarponi's party by jumping away with a kilometre to go, taking the big name overall contenders by surprise. The Frenchman got a gap and held off the rest of the peloton, giving him time to celebrate the biggest win of his career.
Scarponi finished a disappointing eighth and remains fifth overall, 1:28 behind Contador.
"It's a pity not to get a good result because it would have been nice to give everyone at the finish something to celebrate. We tried to be in the action and worked to bring the race back together but only ended up using a lot of energy," he admitted.
"The finish was uphill but it was also pretty fast and so I wasn't able to finish off the work of the team. Well done to Gadret. He surprised us all with his attack and won it well."
Scarponi dismissed a question by Italian television if he was still an overall contender in the Giro with a wave of his hand and preferred to focus on the strength of the Lampre-ISD team. Alessandro Petacchi again did a huge turn on the front to close the gap on the breakaway despite knowing he faces his last chance to win a sprint stage in Ravenna on Thursday.
Scarponi was grateful.
"Alessandro is a champion and is riding really strong, not only in the sprints but even on days like today," he said.
"He helped us a lot and we're trying to pick up things from his huge experience. It's great to have him in the race and hopefully it will be his turn to win tomorrow. He deserves it and we'll try and help him."
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