Rodriguez wins in Offida

Mon, 12 Mar 15:15:00 2012

Joaquin Rodriguez claimed the sixth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico as Chris Horner retained the overall lead going into Tuesday's concluding time trial.

Joaquin Rodriguez sixth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico - 0

The former Spanish champion, riding for Katusha, beat Vincenzo Nibali to the line at the end of a 181km stage that began and finished in the hilltop town of Offida in the Marche region.

Carlos Alberto Betancur (Acqua & Sapone), Luis Felipe Laverde (Colombia - Coldeportes), Arthur Vichot (FDJ - BigMat), Andrey Amador and Branislau Samoilau (Movistar), Serge Pauwels (OPQS) and Mirko Selvaggi (Vacansoleil) formed the break of the day after 55km.

They built up a maximum lead of four minutes and 30 seconds and were still ahead on the penultimate of six laps of a 16.2km circuit that concluded the stage.

Betancur, Vichot, Amador and Pauwels broke clear with 20km remaining as the ascents of the tough Ponte delle Pietre climb took their toll but they were eventually reeled in with 5km left.

An elite group formed on the hilly run-in before Rodriguez made his move, just after the Flamme Rouge, and held on for a narrow victory over Nibali with Danilo Di Luca (Acqua & Sapone) and American Horner just behind.

Rodriguez: “We let (Peter) Sagan work a lot because we knew he’d be the most dangerous. That was the key to success. These kind of attacks don’t often work and if the stage had been 200 metres longer, I don’t know if I’d have made it to the finish. I was a bit demoralised because I thought I’d be up there in Chieti (on stage 4) but I wasn’t. So I was a bit surprised to win.”

RadioShack Nissan Trek's Horner kept the race leader's blue jersey but Roman Kreuziger (Astana) is just five seconds behind with Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) six seconds behind, entering Tuesday’s 9.3km time trial, after picking up six bonus seconds.

Horner said: “I made no mistakes. The tactics were dictated by the race. Kreuziger is the big threat I believe and we’ll see tomorrow if I’m correct. For me the important thing was to keep the jersey. I think the race has been perfect.

“Today Peter Sagan was phenomenal on the last climb and up to finish. If Nibali wins, he owes Sagan a car or something.”

World champion Mark Cavendish found himself in an early escape group but then abandoned the race as he looks ahead to the opening 'Monument' of the 2012 season, Saturday's Milan-San Remo.

2011 Milan-San Remo winner Matt Goss (GreenEdge Cycling Team), Belgian national champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Procycling) did not start the stage as they look to conserve energy ahead of the 298km classic.

Tirreno - Adriatico : Stag

Lee Walker / Follow @Lee_Eurosport on Twitter / Eurosport

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