Cycing: Ventoso breezes to victory
Spanish sprinter Francisco Ventoso lived up to his name yesterday when he breezed past the favourites in the final 200m to take stage six of the Giro d'Italia into Fiuggi.
Ventoso, whose name means 'breezy' in English, outkicked Lampre's stage two winner and points leader Alessandro Petacchi, Roberto Ferrari of Androni Giocattoli and the rest of the peloton to claim his first Giro stage win in a mass bunch sprint at the end of the 216km stage.
A five-man breakaway group, comprising Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF Inox), Jussi Veikkanen (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Kristof Vandewalle (Quick Step), Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Yaroslav Popovych of RadioShack, had earlier gone clear, after just 9km. they dominated proceedings for most of the stage, building up a maximum lead of just over five minutes, before the Rabobank team of race leader Pieter Weening and the Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli team joined forces to close the gap.
The lead group began to splinter when first Modolo and then Veikkanen lost contact inside the final 40km. With the gap down to under a minute with 9km to go, Vandewalle struck for home, leaving Popovych and Veuchelen to be absorbed into the peoloton shortly after.
Vandewalle fought hard to fend off the peloton, but was reeled in just over a kilometre from the line.
The stage was then set for a bunch sprint, where Ventoso held off Petacchi to take victory.
"Today was one of the stages that I had earmarked," said a delighted Ventoso afterwards. "I thought Petacchi was going to pass me in the last few metres. I am really happy with this victory."
Dutchman Weening retained the pink jersey of race leader for another day, holding on to his two-second lead over HTC Highroad duo Konstanstin Sitsov and Marco Pinotti, with Christophe Le Mevel fourth.
Ireland's Philip Deignan lost a further five minutes yesterday, but won't be too worried as his priorities on this Giro are now to help RadioShack leader Tiago Machado and to try and take a stage win himself in the latter stages of the three-week tour.