For full coverage of Tirreno-Adriatico stage 6, visit Cyclingnews.com.
Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) has won stage six of the 2012 Tirrano-Adriatico after staging a daring breakaway with around 1km to go. American Christopher Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) retains the overall lead in the GC with one stage left to go, with the race set to reach its denouement at the 9.3km individual time trial at San Benedetto del Tronto on Tuesday afternoon.
Rodriguez used his skill and experience as a climber to secure the win on the 181km stage that featured several climbs right up until the dramatic hilltop finish. The 32-year-old from Barcelona isn’t a stranger to success here, having secured stage wins in both 2008 and 2009, but will nevertheless glad to get his first World Tour win of the season close to Italy’s Adriatic coast.
The minutes leading up the start were dominated by several high profile withdrawals, notably those of Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Edvald Boasson Hagen and Matthew Goss (GreenEdge). All three cited illness and they were joined on the sidelines less than midway through the stage by Mark Cavendish (Team Sky), who pulled out to focus on his preparations for the forthcoming Milan-San Remo.
The stage itself covered an initial loop of 84km before six undulating laps of just over 16km each. Each lap featured the gruelling 2.5km Ponte delle Pietre climb at its conclusion, which provided a stern test for the top quality field that has ascended here. With just a time trial remaining after the completion of the stage, the riders were well aware of the importance attached to this afternoon’s action.