The article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.
Adam Hansen of Lotto Belisol won the seventh stage of the Giro d'Italia with a fine solo effort, having been the final survivor of the day's breakaway. He crossed the finish line in Pescara over a minute ahead of Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani Valvole) and Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini).
The new pink jersey is Benat Intxausti (Movistar), five seconds ahead of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and eight seconds over Ryder Hesjedal. All three finished more than a minute after Hansen after a downpour caused havoc in the peloton.
Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky crashed on the dangerous wet roads with about five km to go, losing time not only from the crash but from his slow and cautious descent afterwards. The small group of favourites crossed the finish line 1:15 after Hansen, but both Wiggins and maglia rosa Luca Paolini lost time. Paolini fell to 15th, and Wiggins disappeared out of the top 20.
Hansen was in a group of six which had broke clear 29km into the race. It was by far the biggest career win for the man who was known as the ultimate helper – and the only many last year to ride all three Grand Tours in 2012, a feat he hopes to repeat this year.
The favourites slugged it out behind him, their legs burning from the numerous small climbs along the way. Wiggins was one of many riders to slide out on the wet and greasy roads and he took the remaining five kilometres at a slower pace, losing even more time to his rivals. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) also crashed having attacked on the final descent but the Italian was able to rejoin the group of favourites, which also included Cadel Evans (BMC) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp).
How it happened
The sun was shining when the peloton left San Salvo, but unfortunately it didn't stay that way. Two riders didn't take to the start, Klaas Lodewijck (BMC) and Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge), who suffered a fractured collarbone in yesterday's stage. They were soon joined on the sidelines by Lampre-Merida's Mattia Cattaneo, who crashed heavily in the neutralized zone. He was immediately taken to hospital with a suspected fracture femur, but was later cleared of the injury.
There was really only one flat section on the stage, and six riders took advantage of that to form a group and get away. Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli), Ioannis Tamouridis (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Maarten Tjallingii (Blanco), Dominique Rollin (FDJ), Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol) and Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM) were the lucky ones to make the move.
The danger in the group was Sella, who was only 6:52 down on GC. Surprisingly, the peloton let him go, and he and the group quickly passed the seven minute marker, making him the virtual maglia rosa.
The stage may have started in the sun, but the clouds and rain moved in and took over about halfway through. Ligthart crashed in the rain hard enough to need a new bike, but was able to make his way back up the group.
The whole course profile resembled a saw blade, with multiple small climbs along the way. With about 70km to go, the real climbing started, with the result that the gap started finally coming down and the favourites moving up to the front. It was Vini Fantini-Selle Italia, though, which had led the chase the whole way, and they retained command.
Sella dashed out to take the first mountain points atop the category four Villamagna, followed by Tamouridis and Hansen. The sextet continued to stay away for the second climb as well, the Chieti – Pietragrossa (category two).
Fabio Taborre of Vini Fantini jumped from the field on the climb, which moved Team Sky to the front of the chase. Sella again took the points, but by now the group of favourites was only two minutes behind, and Taborre even closer. With 32 km to go, the leading group had collapsed to just Sella and Hansen. The vicious pitches on the unranked climb saw Taborre cross over a little more than two minutes later, with the by-now splintered field shortly behind.
It started raining again, and Sella went down hard on a corner. He fought hard to catch Hansen and the two set a blistering pace, and with 25km to go, had built up a three minute gap over the peloton. Sella fell back on the third ranked climb, the Santa Maria de Criptis, with 20km to go, leaving Hansen alone in the lead. Behind them, Guillaume Bonnafond (Ag2r-La Mondiale) jumped from the field,but was unable to get away. No sooner was he caught that Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini) jumped away.
The field was certainly not willing to let him get away though, and he ended up towing five other riders with him as he connected up with teammate Taborre. Hansen had 2:45 on the field as he took the mountain points and continued on his solo way, descending in the rain.
Rollin and Tjallingii were caught by the field with 15 km to go, as Kanel Tangert attacked. The Astana rider built up a tidy little lead, and Di Luca went off in chase, but was once again unsuccessful. More riders jumped with hopes of catching Sella, at least.
The rain was pouring down, making the final decent trecherous. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was another who tried to get away as everyone realised Wiggins was in trouble. His bike slid out from under him on a curve, one of a number of riders to lose out to the rain-wet roads, hitting the ground.
Sella was still chasing Hansen, but crashed again, on another wet curve, and fell back to be caught by the next chasing group. Wiggins also fell victim to the wet road, going down on the same corner. It took him a while to get going again and lost valuable time to his rivals. Numerous other riders also made contact with the road surface.
Hansen cruised on in to the finish line, seemingly stunned and overjoyed by his own performance. Behind him the field had split into many little groups on the slick roads. The small group of favourites – having lost both Paolini and Wiggins – came over the line a bit more than a minute later, with those two following later in the same group close to 90 seconds down.