Rodriguez solos to victory in Chieti

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) unleashed a fierce uphill acceleration to claim stage 5 of Tirreno-Adriatico in Chieti, while Chris Froome (Sky) did enough to unseat Michael Kwiatowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) from the overall lead and put himself in poll position to claim final victory.

At 230 kilometres, the stage was the second instalment of Tirreno-Adriatico’s long weekend, but the effects weren’t definitively felt until the short, sharp climb up Via Salomone inside the final 1500 metres, when Rodriguez careered away from the select group of contenders on a gradient of 15%.

Froome and Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) didn’t dare to try and match the ferocity of Rodriguez’s attack but they did lift the pace as they set off in pursuit, and this change in tempo was enough to see Kwiatowski deposited out the back of the leading group, while Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) also began to suffer.

Rodriguez crossed the summit with 5 seconds in hand and a shade over one kilometre still to race, but the Catalan had enough in reserve to increase his advantage over Froome and Contador in the finale. He won the stage by 8 seconds from Bauke Mollema (Blanco), who led Contador, Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia), Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard) and Froome over the line.

“It was a stage that suited me but I didn’t expect it because I was feeling terrible – I thought I had bad legs, especially after all the rain we had this week,” Rodriguez said afterwards. “This win really means a lot because there were a lot of good riders here and it’s never easy to beat them.”

Froome was pleased to take control of the blue jersey and he hinted afterwards that he had used up precious energy in chasing after Contador when he attacked to take the bonus seconds on the penultimate climb of Pietragrossa, just 3 kilometres from the finish. By day’s end, Froome had yielded six seconds in bonuses to Contador but he still maintains a 20-second lead over the Spaniard ahead of the final time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto on Tuesday.

“Contador lost some time yesterday and he tried to pull it back today. It was very hard for everybody after 230km, nobody had much left in the legs,” said Froome.

A disappointed Nibali crossed the line 17 seconds down on the stage, while Kwiatowski suffered badly to concede over 40 seconds in the closing 1.5 kilometres. Nibali now lies 3rd overall, 20 seconds down on Froome, while Kwiatowski has slipped to 4th at 24 seconds.

“I paid a price for the infernal rhythm of Froome’s team in the finale,” Nibali admitted, highlighting how, yet again, Sky’s strength in numbers proved decisive at Tirreno-Adriatico. Dario Cataldo, Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Uran were the men who drove the blue jersey group over the summit of the Passo Lanciano and continued to whittle it down on the rolling run-in to the finish at Chieti.

With 6 kilometres to go, their forcing saw dangermen Moreno Moser and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) drop off the back, and although Alberto Contador was able to slip away to claim the bonus with 4.6km to go, Sky were back on the front soon afterwards to shut down a counter-attack from Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Andrey Amador (Movistar).

“The team pulled for the last 50km and did excellent work,” said Froome, matter-of-factly. At the same time in France, Richie Porte was riding towards another prestigious victory for Sky at Paris-Nice. It seems that marginal gains add up to some big differences.

How it happened

The sun was finally shining on the Tirreno-Adriatico peloton at the start in Ortona, with the glistening Adriatic and the snow-covered Apennines providing a stunning backdrop and indicating the two facets of the 230km stage.

A total of 168 riders rolled out from the start, with Francesco Chicchi (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) the only non-starter after struggling with a temperature overnight. Sadly Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco Pro Cycling) was also forced to quit before the 'kilometre zero' mark after crashing. He hit his knee on the ground, later tweeting that his Classics campaign could be at risk due to damaged knee bursae. Olivier Kaisen (Lotto Belisol) also retired. Later Martin Reimer (MTN Qhubeka) and mountain's classification leader Francesco Failli (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) also retired. The Italian had been riding with a cracked rib.

After several attacks and chases nine riders got away to form the break of the day after 20km. The nine were: Valerio Agnoli (Astana), Michael Schär (BMC), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida), Sebastian Langeveld (Orica Greenedge), Stijn Devolder (Radioshack-Leopard), Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM), Cesare Benedetti (NetApp-Endura) and Oscar Gatto (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia).

Benedetti almost crashed on a corner, lost contact and eventually sat up, leaving eight riders in the break. Their lead grew to 7:00 after 65km, with Agnoli becoming virtual race leader. However, Omega Pharma- Quick Step and Team Sky set about closing the gap, and they later received a helping hand from the Cannondale squad of Moser and Sagan.

Cunego was first over the Forchetta di Paletta climb after 91km, ahead of Flecha, Agnoli and Devolder, with the peloton at six minutes. The race average was 35.100km/h.

The long valley road via Sulmona lead around the mountains of the Majella and to the foot of the Passo Lanciano, with Cannondale Pro Cycling and Ag2r-La Mondiale now leading the peloton.

The Passo Lanciano is 12km long, with an average gradient of 8.6%. With the finish just 40km from the finish, the climb was expected to inspire attacks and Cunego decided it was time to blow apart. He quickly left the rest and crossed the summit first. However the 25-strong gruppo also accelerated on the climb, and had caught everyone else by the 1306m high summit. The gap to Cunego was just two minutes.

The Italian tried his hardest to hold his lead on the fast descent towards Chieti but with the Team Sky machine on the front – and local rider Dario Cataldo particularly impressive – the gap fell rapidly and he was swept up with a shade over 6km to race. As expected, the steep climb to the centre of Chieti would decide the stage winner.

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Full Results
1Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha6:06:43
2Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team0:00:08
3Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-TinkoffRow 2 - Cell 2
4Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle ItaliaRow 3 - Cell 2
5Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack LeopardRow 4 - Cell 2
6Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky ProcyclingRow 5 - Cell 2
7Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:00:17
8Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida0:00:22
9Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-TinkoffRow 8 - Cell 2
10Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp0:00:28
11Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team0:00:31
12Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling0:00:35
13Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky ProcyclingRow 12 - Cell 2
14Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 13 - Cell 2
15Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick StepRow 14 - Cell 2
16Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha0:00:46
17Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale0:00:51
18Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:01:09
19José Joao Pimenta Costa Mendes (Por) Team NetApp-EnduraRow 18 - Cell 2
20Matteo Rabottini (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia0:01:17
21Paul Voss (Ger) Team NetApp-Endura0:01:20
22Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 21 - Cell 2
23Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 22 - Cell 2
24Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 23 - Cell 2
25Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:01:37
26Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto BelisolRow 25 - Cell 2
27Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN-Qhubeka0:01:44
28Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Movistar Team0:01:57
29Jesus Hernandez Blazquez (Spa) Team Saxo-TinkoffRow 28 - Cell 2
30Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:03:04
31Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team NetApp-Endura0:03:46
32Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 31 - Cell 2
33Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team0:03:52
34Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi0:04:01
35Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha0:04:35
36Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:04:42
37Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:05:20
38Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre-MeridaRow 37 - Cell 2
39Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 38 - Cell 2
40Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick StepRow 39 - Cell 2
41Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:06:01
42Dario Cataldo (Ita) Sky Procycling0:06:45
43Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ0:07:06
44Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team0:07:35
45Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 44 - Cell 2
46Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge0:07:44
47Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quick StepRow 46 - Cell 2
48Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling TeamRow 47 - Cell 2
49Vladimir Isaichev (Rus) KatushaRow 48 - Cell 2
50Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) Sky ProcyclingRow 49 - Cell 2
51Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 50 - Cell 2
52Jan Barta (Cze) Team NetApp-EnduraRow 51 - Cell 2
53Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 52 - Cell 2
54Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida0:08:53
55Stijn Devolder (Bel) RadioShack Leopard0:09:29
56Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale0:10:10
57Jorge Azanza Soto (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 56 - Cell 2
58Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Argos-ShimanoRow 57 - Cell 2
59Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJRow 58 - Cell 2
60Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 59 - Cell 2
61Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team Saxo-TinkoffRow 60 - Cell 2
62Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr) KatushaRow 61 - Cell 2
63Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Sky ProcyclingRow 62 - Cell 2
64Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano0:10:51
65Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) RadioShack Leopard0:12:20
66Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida0:14:05
67Robert Hunter (RSA) Garmin-SharpRow 66 - Cell 2
68Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 67 - Cell 2
69Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto BelisolRow 68 - Cell 2
70Paul Martens (Ger) Blanco Pro Cycling TeamRow 69 - Cell 2
71Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Argos-ShimanoRow 70 - Cell 2
72Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-SharpRow 71 - Cell 2
73Mauro Finetto (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle ItaliaRow 72 - Cell 2
74Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJRow 73 - Cell 2
75Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar TeamRow 74 - Cell 2
76Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Lotto BelisolRow 75 - Cell 2
77Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 76 - Cell 2
78Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle ItaliaRow 77 - Cell 2
79Cédric Pineau (Fra) FDJRow 78 - Cell 2
80Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 79 - Cell 2
81Robert Vrecer (Slo) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 80 - Cell 2
82Ricardo Garcia Ambroa (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 81 - Cell 2
83Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 82 - Cell 2
84Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Orica-GreenEdgeRow 83 - Cell 2
85Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre-MeridaRow 84 - Cell 2
86Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) KatushaRow 85 - Cell 2
87Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar TeamRow 86 - Cell 2
88Andy Schleck (Lux) RadioShack LeopardRow 87 - Cell 2
89Christian Knees (Ger) Sky Procycling0:14:48
90Jacobus Venter (RSA) MTN-QhubekaRow 89 - Cell 2
91Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack Leopard0:15:21
92Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Sky Procycling0:16:07
93Oscar Gatto (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia0:16:12
94Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol0:22:18
95Lars Boom (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling TeamRow 94 - Cell 2
96Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quick StepRow 95 - Cell 2
97Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Argos-ShimanoRow 96 - Cell 2
98Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto BelisolRow 97 - Cell 2
99Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 98 - Cell 2
100Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 99 - Cell 2
101Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo-TinkoffRow 100 - Cell 2
102Ioannis Tamouridis (Gre) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 101 - Cell 2
103André Greipel (Ger) Lotto BelisolRow 102 - Cell 2
104Maarten Wynants (Bel) Blanco Pro Cycling TeamRow 103 - Cell 2
105Thomas Dekker (Ned) Garmin-SharpRow 104 - Cell 2
106Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick StepRow 105 - Cell 2
107Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 106 - Cell 2
108Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN-QhubekaRow 107 - Cell 2
109Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJRow 108 - Cell 2
110Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing TeamRow 109 - Cell 2
111Laurent Mangel (Fra) FDJRow 110 - Cell 2
112Hayden Roulston (NZl) RadioShack LeopardRow 111 - Cell 2
113Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Blanco Pro Cycling TeamRow 112 - Cell 2
114Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto BelisolRow 113 - Cell 2
115Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Argos-ShimanoRow 114 - Cell 2
116Manuele Boaro (Ita) Team Saxo-TinkoffRow 115 - Cell 2
117Albert Timmer (Ned) Team Argos-ShimanoRow 116 - Cell 2
118Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-SharpRow 117 - Cell 2
119David De La Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) Team NetApp-EnduraRow 118 - Cell 2
120Matthieu Sprick (Fra) Team Argos-ShimanoRow 119 - Cell 2
121Miguel Minguez Ayala (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 120 - Cell 2
122Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 121 - Cell 2
123Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 122 - Cell 2
124Brett Lancaster (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge0:22:25
125Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdgeRow 124 - Cell 2
126Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Team NetApp-EnduraRow 125 - Cell 2
127Martin Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick StepRow 126 - Cell 2
128Grega Bole (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 127 - Cell 2
129Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdgeRow 128 - Cell 2
130Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN-QhubekaRow 129 - Cell 2
131Danilo Hondo (Ger) RadioShack LeopardRow 130 - Cell 2
132Manuel Belletti (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 131 - Cell 2
133Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-MeridaRow 132 - Cell 2
134Luca Paolini (Ita) KatushaRow 133 - Cell 2
135Jens Mouris (Ned) Orica-GreenEdgeRow 134 - Cell 2
136Eros Capecchi (Ita) Movistar TeamRow 135 - Cell 2
137Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 136 - Cell 2
138Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 137 - Cell 2
139Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack LeopardRow 138 - Cell 2
140Daniele Bennati (Ita) Team Saxo-TinkoffRow 139 - Cell 2
141Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) FDJRow 140 - Cell 2
142Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick StepRow 141 - Cell 2
143Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN-QhubekaRow 142 - Cell 2
144Daniel Schorn (Aut) Team NetApp-EnduraRow 143 - Cell 2
145Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-SharpRow 144 - Cell 2
146Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 145 - Cell 2
147Alan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 146 - Cell 2
148Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 147 - Cell 2
149Fredrik Carl Wilhelm Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana Pro TeamRow 148 - Cell 2
150Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 149 - Cell 2
151Boy van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 150 - Cell 2
152Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJRow 151 - Cell 2
153Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Vini Fantini-Selle ItaliaRow 152 - Cell 2
154Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Team NetApp-EnduraRow 153 - Cell 2
155Andreas Stauff (Ger) MTN-QhubekaRow 154 - Cell 2
156Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Garmin-SharpRow 155 - Cell 2
157Steve Chainel (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 156 - Cell 2
158Stephen Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing TeamRow 157 - Cell 2
159Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-MeridaRow 158 - Cell 2
160Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEdgeRow 159 - Cell 2
161Mitchell Docker (Aus) Orica-GreenEdgeRow 160 - Cell 2
162Davide Appollonio (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 161 - Cell 2
163Pavel Brutt (Rus) KatushaRow 162 - Cell 2
DNSFrancesco Chicchi (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle ItaliaRow 163 - Cell 2
DNFSep Vanmarcke (Bel) Blanco Pro Cycling TeamRow 164 - Cell 2
DNFOlivier Kaisen (Bel) Lotto BelisolRow 165 - Cell 2
DNFMartin Reimer (Ger) MTN-QhubekaRow 166 - Cell 2
DNFFrancesco Failli (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle ItaliaRow 167 - Cell 2
DNFGert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick StepRow 168 - Cell 2
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Sprint 1 - Lettomanoppello, 178.8km
1Stijn Devolder (Bel) RadioShack Leopard5pts
2Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida3Row 1 - Cell 3
3Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha2Row 2 - Cell 3
4Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana Pro Team1Row 3 - Cell 3
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