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Tirreno-Adriatico 2012: Stage 6

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Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage from stage 6 of Tirreno-Adriatico.

18km on the menu for today's stage with a hill-top finish in Offida.

So we should witness another exhilarating stage. Currently, Chris Horner (RadioShack Nissan Trek) wears the race leader’s blue jersey. Roman Kreuziger (Astana Pro Team) is five seconds behind overall, with Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) third at 12 seconds.

But before we head to the race, there's news that Gilbert, Goss, Reynes, and Boasson Hagen have all pulled out of the race having failed to start. You can read all about that here.

And we've got a cracking batch of photos from the start this morning.

Stage six covers an opening loop of 84km and then six laps of a 16.2km circuit that includes a climb, descent, flat section and then the tougher Ponte delle Pietre climb. The finish rises gradually all the way to the line. Points for the climber’s competition will be awarded after the fourth lap. The intermediate sprints will be contested after three and five laps (132.5km and 164.8km).

The Ponte delle Pietre climb on each circuit is 2.5km long, with an average gradient of 7.1%. The final three kilometres include a slight downhill section before the gradual climb to the line at 2%. A right turn takes the riders into the final kilometre with a gradual curve left leading to the finish line. The asphalted road is seven metres wide.

And here are the race leaders: General classification: Christopher Horner (RadioShack Nissan Trek) White jersey: Best young rider: Cameron Meyer (GreenEdge Cycling Team) Red jersey: Points classification: Peter Sagan (Liquigas Cannondale) Green jersey: Climber’s classification: Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago – CSF Inox)

RT @BikeBizOnline: Ladbrokes cuts odds on Wiggins winning 2012 Tour de France http://t.co/K9KxKAWk

@willfoth Mon, 12th Mar 2012 12:54:35

And here's how we stand on GC with two stages remaining:

1 Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan 24:48:39
2 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team 0:00:05
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:12
4 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:45
5 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:00:47
6 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:00:48
7 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 0:01:00
8 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:10
9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox 0:01:17
10 Cameron Meyer (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team 0:01:23

After 3km of racing Mark Cavendish found himself on the attack with 5 other riders: Napolitano, Ascani, Rollin, Langeveld and Niemiec.

That move was quickly nullified.

However a move did break clear in the first hour, including

Betancur, Laverde, Vichot, Amador, Samoilau, Pauwels and Savages.

114km remaining from 181km

After 67km of racing, the leaders have an advantage of 3:58

We're now hearing that Mark Cavendish is the latest rider to pull out of the race as he looks to prepare his form ahead of Milan-San Remo.

The break in full: Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Acqua & Sapone), Luis Felipe Laverde (Colombia - Coldeportes), Arthur Vichot (FDJ-Big Mat), Andrei Amador (Movistar), Branislau Samoilau (Movistar), Serge Pauwels (Omega-Pharma QuickStep) and Mirko Selvaggi (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)

The break has a lead of 4:33 on the bunch now. Meanwhile, we can confirm that Cavendish has pulled out of the race.

RT @AcquaeSapone: @tirrenadriatico: @acquaesapone in fuga con Betancur. L'azione continua http://t.co/fPBJg2vR

@TirrenAdriatico Mon, 12th Mar 2012 13:36:53

News: Startline Gallery: Tirreno-Adriatico stage 6: Penultimate stage with Horner leading http://t.co/icRsb9CI

@Cyclingnewsfeed Mon, 12th Mar 2012 13:30:07

Offida hosted the 2010 junior world road race championships and the 2011 Under 23 European championships, using the same finishing circuit as today’s stage.

Milan San Remo is 298k of racing with only 20k that really matter, but those 20k happen to be the best 20 in bikes.

@nyvelocity Mon, 12th Mar 2012 13:48:49

50km remaining from 181km

50km to go and the gap is down to 3:44. Liquigas and RadioShack are leading the pace, with Cancellara taking big pulls on the front of the bunch.

With the race still up for grabs it doesn't look great for the breakaway.

The break is still working together but more and more teams are moving to the head of the field - Garmin included.

Well, that's my #TirrenoAdriatico done & dusted. Haven't finished today's stage, but good sensations. Now to rest up for @milano_sanremo.

@MarkCavendish Mon, 12th Mar 2012 13:51:27

The riders who remain in Tirreno-Adriatico are racing towards Offida. All 3 of them.

@richardmoore73 Mon, 12th Mar 2012 13:53:44

Astana also sending their men to the front.

Kreuziger trails Horner by just 5 seconds so the overall is still wide open. And we've got tomorrow's time trial to come. You'd have to say if they start tomorrow with just 5 seconds separating them it will be very hard to call, perhaps Horner just about has the edge against the clock.

The lead is down to 3 minutes.

38km remaining from 181km

We're into the final 3 laps with 38km remaining.

It's an undulating circuit and the leaders are on the main climb. Pirazzi is well ahead in the KOM competition.

Vichot on the front in the break but I can't see them staying away. Nibali, picking up the win yesterday, may want to try again today.

 

Scarponi, from this region, is also in with a chance of winning today. Unlike a lot of Milan-San Remo favourites he's still in the race.

The break comes across the line with two laps to go. Liquigas is still on the front of the peloton doing most of the work.

These two laps will be rapid and we should see a selection made on the final climb to the finish.

Interestingly BMC has moved up as well. They've had a poor race, and a poor start to the season so far, so they'll want to pick up a confidence-boosting win ahead of Milan-San Remo.

The gap is down to 1:53.

A bit more urgency in the break but back in the bunch they're all lining out.

Sagan is near the front. A question of whether he'll try for the stage win today or work for Nibali. Probably the latter.

And BMC place two men right on the front of the bunch. Ballan and Quinziato both there.

25km remaining from 181km

25kilometres to go and Vichot takes another turn on the front of the break. The gap is down to 1:10

Betancur attacks the break but he's brought back straight away. The gap is down under a minute now, as Pozzato goes backwards in the bunch.

Samoilau has dropped from the break and Scarponi sits fourth in the bunch.

The break is on the main climb of the final loop and they're splitting up. Betancur and Vichot have a small gap as Lampre ramp up the pace at the head of the field.

Horner near the front, just as he should be.

The gap is 57 seconds, with 19km to go.

Katusha also present at the front, most likely for Rodriguez. Cancellara is on the front for RadioShack.

Into the last lap 16km to go but the gap is down to under a minute.

The gap is 58 seconds as the bunch cross the line for the final time.

The four man break of Amador, Vichot, Pauwels and Betancur are still together, their gap has dropped by 10 seconds though, and it's down to 48 seconds.

It's actually going to be a lot harder to bring this group back. The major 2.5km climb should see them reeled in though.

The gap is down to 34 seconds.

A few riders in the break are skipping turns, they're flagging.

10km remaining from 181km

Katusha are doing the damage on the front and Paolini takes a corner at full pace and gain a few meters. He eases up and waits for the bunch but with 10k to go the gap is down to 25 seconds.

A long, long flat round now and the bunch will be able to see the leaders up the road. We're down to 23 seconds. Katusha on the front, Liquigas hovering just behind.

8km to go and the gap is 23 seconds so it looks like the four man break will be caught on the climb.

All the leaders in the bunch are fighting for position as Vichot and company all sit up.. Caught inside the final 6km.

Sagan is leading Nibali. Horner on Nibali's wheel.

Watch out for Scarponi though, surely he'll try a move.

Di Luca is on third wheel. Can he win today?

Garzelli is up near the front too.

All the major contenders are there.

Nibali is now on Horner's wheel.

Devolder and Poels try and make a move.

Di Luca chases and brings him back with Scarponi dragging them all back together.

Di Luca goes again.

Scarponi gets right on his wheel and drags him back again.

Scarponi gets right on his wheel and drags him back again.

Di Luca and Scarponi have a small gap

It's coming back together with 3.5km to go.

Sagan helps to bring the Italian duo back. The lead group is down to around 15 riders.

As Riblon attacks on the descent. He's up again Sagan who is leading the chase.

Pozzovivo has a dig and it looks like he'll catch Riblon. Horner is on his own with no teammates so he'll have to measure his strength. This will help him, he just doesnt want Nibali to pick up time at the finish.

1.5 km to go.

And Sagan drags it back together

Rodriguez attacks with 1km to go.

That's a huge turn of speed from the Spaniard.

And again Sagan is doing all the chase work.

Can Rodriguez hang on for the win.

The final few metres and Sagan is closing in.

Rodriguez takes the win but Nibali grabs second and takes 6 seconds on GC.

Horner will still be in blue but that was a great ride from Sagan working for Nibali. He brought back move after move on that finish circuit

1 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 4:38:27
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
3 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Acqua & Sapone

Horner grabbed 4th.

Nibali is just 6 seconds down on GC now, in third place.

1 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
3 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
4 Christopher Horner (USA) Radioshack-Nissan
5 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
6 Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team

GC
1 Christopher Horner (USA) Radioshack-Nissan
2 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
4 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
5 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD
6 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team

Thanks for joining us today. Stay tuned tomorrow for the final stage of the race.

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