Piepoli missed out on Montelupone chance

Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Scott) had a gear problem

Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Scott) had a gear problem (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

By Gregor Brown in Recanati

One Italy's best climbers missed an opportunity to shine on the stiff gradients of Montelupone due to a chain skip with 800 metres remaining. Leonardo Piepoli, winner of the mountain's jersey in last year's Giro d'Italia, fought back the beset he could in Tirreno-Adriatico's stage three, but could only manage 17 seconds (fourth) behind winner Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne).

"That stage, Montelupone, was good for me," he said Sunday after his time trial run. "It is too bad what happened. I dropped the chain, but that is life.

"That was the first time we were able to do [the climb] in a race: it was like the Mur de Huy in Flèche Wallonne," he said with a grin. He would like to see the 1.78-kilometre climb appear again as long as the organisers thin out the field a little beforehand. "I think if they were to put it in the Giro d'Italia it would be good, but there needs to be a climb before it to thin out the field so it is less dangerous."

Many riders were left to finish the climb on foot when the speeds dipped to the point where balance was impossible. Not helping maters was a television motorbike that also tumbled in the finale. "It is normal on a climb that steep."

Piepoli is looking after team-mate Riccardo Riccò in Tirreno as the two build for the Giro, May 10 to June 1. "I hope that tomorrow [stage six - ed.] he has recovered from the crash [on stage three] and he can come out to win. However, we are both progressing well towards the Giro d'Italia."

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