Michele Scarponi of the Diquigiovanni team soloed to victory on the sixth stage of the Tour of Italy to claim his first career win on the race Thursday.
Fellow Italian Danilo Di Luca, of LPR, retained the race leader's pink jersey after a 248 km ride in which a five-man breakaway provided much of the day's drama on what was a transitional stage into nearby Austria.
Di Luca, the 2007 champion, retained his five-second lead over second-placed Swede Thomas Lövkvist with his Columbian teammate Michael Rogers still in third at 36s.
A quartet of arguably more probable Giro winners - Levi Leipheimer, Denis Menchov, Ivan Basso and Carlos Sastre - sit in fourth to seventh places.
Scarponi was part of the earlier five-man escape group which formed around 50km into the stage, but for most of whom the stage's principal climb at Hochkrimml 50km from the finish line was their undoing.
Only Belarussian Vasik Kiryienka managed to stay with Scarponi on the ascent before dropping behind, apparently due to cramp.
Scarponi dug deep, went off on his own and managed to hold off a rapidly closing but tired peloton.
Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen of Columbia attacked the pursuers in the final kilometre to finish second at around 30s on the stage, thus picking up the bonus seconds that may otherwise have been snatched by rivals of his team.
It is Scarponi's first Giro stage win and comes only months after returning to the peloton following an 18-month ban for his implication in the Operation Puerto doping scandal.
America's Lance Armstrong will target a stage win in the Giro d'Italia after falling off the pace in the overall standings, race leader Di Luca claimed after Stage 6 on Thursday.
"You mustn't forget that he stopped competing for three years and fractured his collarbone a month and a half before the race," the Italian said.
"I saw the footage of the Alpe di Siusi stage (on Wednesday) on television and he gave everything," Di Luca added of the seven-time Tour de France winner. "He's doing his best, he's honouring the Giro. I think he'll focus on a stage victory."
Armstrong finished 73rd on Thursday and currently occupies 25th place overall, 4 minutes, 13 seconds behind Di Luca.
© AFP 2009
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