Giro d'Italia 8: Sorensen wins first mountain stage

Alexandre Vinokourov still in pink after week 1

Dane Chris Anker Sorensen of the Saxo Bank team soloed to victory in the Tour of Italy eighth stage, a 189 km ride which ended on the race's first summit finish in Terminillo.

Kazakhstan's Alexandre Vinokourov kept the race leader's pink jersey with his 1min 12sec lead on Australian Cadel Evans intact following a largely uneventful stage.

Vinokourov and many other race favourites finished just under a minute behind Sorensen, whose decision to chase down Italian Simoni Stortoni halfway up the 16.1km climb of the Terminillo led to the biggest win of his career.

Sorensen, 25, finished around 30secs ahead of Colnago rider Stortoni but even those present would have struggled to see the Dane's celebrations due to mist shrouding much of the mountain.

Still, Sorensen raised his arms in triumph to claim his most significant win since winning stage six on the 2008 Dauphine Libéré stage race.

Perhaps sensing there would be no real skirmishes between the real victory contenders on the 16.1km climb to Terminillo following Saturday's epic seventh stage, Sorensen did well to join a breakaway which formed after 76km of racing.

Leading up to the foot of the climb Frenchman Thomas Voeckler and Britain's Steven Cummings took responsibility for helping to drive the 16-man break which held a lead of 2:20 before the climb.

That ultimately helped Sorensen keep the chasing pack at bay. However the Dane was given the real spur to go for it when Stortoni jumped out of an eight-man lead group with 10km to race to enjoy freedom for nearly two kilometres of racing.

Sorensen was the only rider to chase him down, and soon afterwards his superior experience told as 24-year-old Stortoni trailed slowly off the pace.

After the rigours of Saturday's rain-hit stage which left the entire peloton covered in mud, the lack of ambition on the real victory contenders was perhaps understandable.

Italian Michele Scarponi attempted a brief attack that was easily countered, while further on Frenchman John Gadret launched a futile bid to claim victory on the stage.

Spaniard Xavier Tondo, the main support rider at Cervelo for pink jersey contender Carlos Sastre, had managed to escape the group of favourites and went on to claim third place ahead of Russian Yevgeny Petrov.

AG2R rider Gadret finished fifth just ahead of a group which contained Vinokourov and Australia's world champion Cadel Evans.

On Monday the race heads back down to sea level for the ninth stage, a 187km ride from Frosinone to Cava de' Tirreni.

© AFP 2010

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