Giro stage 7: Hansen wins wet & wild stage while Wiggins wobbles

Stage 7: San Salvo to Pescara, 177km

Lotto-Belisol’s Adam Hansen, the sole survivor of the day’s breakaway, time-trialled the last 20km solo to take victory, unaware of the drama unfolding behind him as contenders slid off their bikes on roads rendered treacherous in the rain. The drama had been provoked by attacks from a number of the general classification contenders on the final descent.

Lotto-Belisol’s won a stage here the last four years. In the pre-race meeting the team manager said, “One of you will win,” and I thought, “why not me?”
Adam Hansen

It wasn’t a stage for the faint-hearted, not an accusation that could be levelled at the hard-working Aussie who recorded his first win for three years. 1:07 back, stage four winner Enrico Battaglin finished second ahead of Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) leaving no bonus seconds for any of the overall contenders, most of whom were in the same group.

Benat Intxausti (Movistar) displaced Luca Paolini (Katusha) to assume the overall lead while Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) moved up to second and third. Missing from that group was Bradley Wiggins (Sky) who crashed on a corner, remounted, requested reinforcements and rode gingerly to finish more than 2½ minutes behind, along with Paolini.

VeloVoices rider of the day

It gladdens the cockles of our hearts when a rider who usually rides in the service of others gets an opportunity, seizes it with both hands and triumphs against the odds. No surprise, then, that our rider of the day is well-known Twitter wit Adam Hansen. It was his maiden win in a Grand Tour – he rode all three last year – joining a select group of 31 other riders, a feat he’s aiming to repeat this year. It’s his first win since a stage and the overall in 2010 Ster Elecktrotoer. A fitting early birthday present, as he turns 32 tomorrow.

Opinion & analysis

Scan the overall classification and you’ll see names you’d expect to be there or thereabouts. But what’s happened to Sky, who were this morning sitting pretty in second (Rigoberto Uran), sixth (Bradley Wiggins) and eighth (Sergio Henao)? Wiggins’ rivals recognise the need to put time into the Tour de France champion at every opportunity. A chink appeared in his armour in stage four when time was lost after being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Let’s look at the sequence of events. First to make their move were local team Vini Fantini, who’d failed to put a man in the break and were now attempting to animate the stage by sending riders up the road on the penultimate climb. They were swiftly followed by Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida), in a move which split the peloton. However, once over the summit, the key players were all back together. On the final climb, a flurry of attacks shattered the peloton, leaving groups of riders all over the road. Emboldened by his earlier move Nibali attacked again on the descent, applying pressure which saw a number of riders overshooting corners until Nibali himself fell, slid across the rain-slicked road, remounted and chased back on.

Trying to stay in touch, with around 5km to go Wiggins slid off and decided to take no further risks on the descent. Both Uran and Henao dropped back to pace him to the finish as his rivals set about putting more than a minute into him ahead of tomorrow’s individual time trial — the day Wiggins was widely expected to take pink. We won’t know until tomorrow whether Wiggins is struggling or whether this was just a case of safety first, but instead of it being a day where he was expected to turn the screws on his rivals, the pressure now sits firmly on his shoulders to reduce his own deficit.

In addition to the maglia rosa changing hands, best young rider Fabio Aru (Astana) lost time with a fall on the final descent and the jersey passed to Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff).

Stage 7 result

1. Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) 4:35:49

2. Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) +1:07

3. Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) same time

4. Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) s/t

5. Damiano Caruso (Cannondale) s/t

General classification

1. Benat Intxausti (Movistar) 28:30:04

2. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) +0:05

3. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) +0:08

4. Damiano Caruso (Cannondale) +0:10

5. Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) +0:13

6. Cadel Evans (BMC) +0:16

7. Robert Gesink (Blanco) +0:17

8. Ivan Santaromita (BMC) +0:19

9. Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEDGE) +0:29

10. Robert Kiserlovski (RadioShack-Leopard) +0:34

Link: Official website

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