Italian Domenico Pozzovivo climbed into the pink jersey of race leader at the Giro del Trentino in Italy yesterday as Nicolas Roche faded out of overall contention on the slopes of the Punta Veleno.
The 10km mountain saw the peloton fragment on it's 20pc gradient and forced many riders to a standstill. Pozzovivo's diminutive stature saw the Italian climber come into his own on the ascent.
Pozzovivo, winner of the Giro Appenino on Sunday, finished 23 seconds clear of Polish rider Sylvester Smyd and 2:35 ahead of overnight leader Mattias Frank of BMC to take over the leadership with one day of the four to go.
Pozzovivo now leads by 25 seconds from Italian Damiano Cunego, who finished third yesterday, while Smyd moved into third at 49 seconds. Roche finished 33rd on the stage, but lost 6:37 on the final climb, drifting down the overall standings to 29th.
"I was okay for the first few kilometres," said Roche. "But then, at 7km to go, I had nothing left and just let go. I finished at my own pace, which was nothing exceptional."
Today's final stage sees another mountaintop finish on top of the Passa Pordoi, used in the Giro d'Italia.
Meanwhile, five British teams were added to the start list for this year's An Post Ras, due to start in Dunboyne on May 20.
Apart from the UK Youth team founded by former Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt, the other four squads will provide some Irish interest as the Rapha Condor Sharp team will include Irish rider Felix English, while Dubliner Philip Lavery will line out for the Node4 Girodana squad and Skerries native Stephen Halpin will ride for the new Metaltek Scott team.
Elsewhere, Italian cyclist Riccardo Ricco was banned for 12 years by the country's anti-doping tribunal yesterday for self-transfusions of his own blood.
Ricco was also fined €5,000 and ordered to pay legal costs of €15,000.