VETERAN DOMESTIQUE PAOLO Tiralongo (Astana) broke clear of the chasing pack to claim victory in stage seven of the Giro d’Italia.
The 34-year-old, riding at the head of a peloton fatigued by consecutive stages of over 200km, passed the gruelling, 20km ascent of the Rocca di Mezzo in a group of general classification contenders before joining Michele Scarponi (Lampre) in making a final bid for the line.
Perfectly timed so as to induce apathy among those contesting the overall competition, the Italian duo’s move met no significant resistance, prompting Scarponi – whose sights remain fixed on outright victory – to grant his less decorated compatriot the day’s top honour.
Frank Schleck (Radioshack Nissan) launched a belated counterattack to finish the day in third place.
Having watched overnight leader Adriano Malori (Lampre) struggle, and ultimately fail, to keep pace with his nearest competitors, Canada’s Ryder Hesjedal rode the closing kilometres conservatively to assume his place at the summit of the general classification.
The first Canadian to ever don the Maglio Rosa, he enters stage eight with a 15-second advantage over Tiralongo, who in turn leads Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) by two seconds.