Stage profile: The first uphill finish of this year’s race at the top of the 1,392m Rocca di Cambio, a 19.15km climb with a steady gradient of around 5%. A lengthy downhill section precedes the final 1.5km uphill drag, a likely target for punchy Classics-style climbers.
Top three: 1. Paolo Tiralongo (Astana), 2. Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD), 3. Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) +0:03.
Who was in the breakaway?: Reto Hollenstein (NetApp), Fumiyuki Beppu (Orica-GreenEDGE), Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia), Mirko Selvaggi (Vacansoleil-DCM). The breakaway was out for most of the day, with its biggest gap 9:15, before Rabottini shook off his companions to start the final climb on his own with a gap of 1:40 over the bunch.
How the stage was won: With the combination of yesterday’s gruelling stage and the hot, breezeless sunshine today, the peloton kept the escape quartet on a long leash until Liquigas and Garmin-Barracuda took to the front to ratchet up the pressure in the last 20km. From the base of the final climb, it was one attack after another. Stef Clement (Rabobank), Stefano Locatelli and Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago-CSF) got a gap with Roman Kreuziger (Astana) and Damiano Caruso (Liquigas) going after them. However, it was only Pirazzi who stuck the pace, followed by Movistar’s Jose Herrada, who both bridged the gap to Rabottini. Rabottini cracked at the 10km mark but Herrada lasted out in front until the last 600 metres, when Astana’s Paolo Tiralongo and Lampre’s Michele Scarponi raced past him. Tiralongo let Scarponi do most of the work and timed his kick past the defending champion for the victory. Frank Schleck – Frank. Schleck – crossed the line in third.
VeloVoices rider of the stage: Jose Herrada, who calmly bridged the gap up to Pirazzi and Rabottini, and who continued to calmly close the gap after a series of Pirazzi attacks until he swooped past him after an unfortunate corner from Pirazzi. He nearly did it …
1. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) 26:16:53
2. Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) +0:15
3. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) +0:17
4.Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Barracuda) +0:21
5. Peter Stetina (Garmin-Barracuda) +0:26
Points leader: Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE).
King of the Mountains leader: Miguel Angel Rubiano (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela).
Tomorrow: Stage 8 – Sulmona to Lago Laceno, 229km. Just two categorised climbs, but this is the second-longest stage of the 2012 Giro and is constantly undulating throughout. The final climb of the category two Lago Laceno represents the most southerly point of this year’s race. Officially a 14.25km climb, the mountain splits into three distinct sections: relatively mild foothills, followed by a steep middle section which exceeds 10% and then a flat 4.4km run to the finish. We will see some gaps between the GC contenders at the end of a long, punishing day – but probably not big ones.
And here is Cycling the Alps‘ fly-over of the route:
Link: Official website