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Giro d'Italia Stage 7: Evans wins on mud-spattered strade bianche, Vino back in pink

Weather turns Tuscan stage into gruelling ordeal more reminiscent of Flanders classics

Cadel Evans of BMC Racing proved stronger than Astana’s Alexandre Vinokourov and Lampre-Farnese Vini’s Damiano Cunego this afternoon in the run-in to the finish line in Montalcino of Stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia on a day when a heavy downpour caused chaotic conditions on the road in scenes more reminiscent of a Flanders Classic than a Grand Tour.

The World Champion – although you’d have been hard pressed to pick out the rainbow stripes on the front of his jersey, so mud-soaked was it - had used the bike handling skills he developed in his MTB career to lead the front group of five riders into the narrow streets of Montalcino’s centro storico, the others being HTC-Columbia’s Marco Pinotti and Caisse d’Eapargne’s David Arroyo, and proved to have more in his legs than the Italian and the Kazakh, whose expected attacks failed to materialise.

Still, with maglia rosa Vincenzo Nibali suffering after crashing into a ditch with several other riders on a descent 33 kilometres out and having to help pace team leader Ivan Basso who was caught up in the same incident, Vinokourov had the consolation of getting back into the race leader’s jersey that he had worn for 24 hours prior to Stage 4’s team time trial.

Evans’ victory, plus the time bonus that came with it, saw him climb back up to second overall, while Britain’s David Millar, crossing the line just over a minute behind the winner at the end of 222 kilometres and more than five hours of punishing riding after the stage had got underway in Carrara this morning, rises to third.

This year’s route honours some of the great names of cycling’s past, and following Thursday’s Stage 4, which commmemorated Fausto Coppi with a finish in his home town of Novi Ligure, today’s stage paid tribute to the Campionissimo’s great rival, Gino Bartali, taking in his home roads including two sections of the fabled strade bianche, Tuscany’s answer to Flanders’ cobbles.

The words strade bianche may translate into English as white roads – the gravel gleams brilliantly under the summer sun – but there was no evidence of that today as the deluge turned them into a brown quagmire and blew the race apart, splitting the riders into small groups in the closing 30 kilomnetres, and if any riders had been expecting an easy day in the saddle ahead of tomorrow’s summit finish on Monte Terminillo, the weather put paid to that.

Among the big losers was Cervelo TestTeam’s Carlos Sastre, the highest placed finisher in last year’s Giro competing this time around – the Spaniard was elevated to third place after Danilo di Luca’s disqualification – who lost nearly five and a half minutes to Vinokourov and is seven minutes behind the Kazakh overall, and who now looks likely to have to content himself with targeting a stage win rather than the general classification.

The first Team Sky rider home was the Italian Dario Cioni, who finished 24th, a second shy of three minutes behind Evans. Cioni is also the hghest-placed rider from tbe British outfit in the overall standings, occupying 25th place, more than seven minutes behind Vinokourov. Team-mate Bradley Wiggins occupies next place, but is nearly nine minutes off the overall lead.

Stage 7 (Carrara-Montalcino, 222km) Top 20

1   EVANS Cadel BMC          5:13:37
2   CUNEGO Damiano LAM          0:02
3   VINOKOUROV Alexandre AST    0:02
4   PINOTTI Marco THR           0:06
5   ARROYO David GCE            0:12
6   GARZELLI Stefano ASA        0:27
7   GADRET John ALM             0:29
8   SCARPONI Michele AND        1:01
9   SARMIENTO Cayetano ASA      1:07
10  BAKELANDTS Jan OLO          1:10
11  MILLAR David GRM            1:11
12  ROHREGGER Thomas MRM        1:13
13  GERDEMANN Linus MRM         1:13
14  KARPETS Vladimir KAT        1:18
15  LARSSON Gustav Erik SAX     1:42
16  PORTE Richie SAX            1:42
17  NIBALI Vincenzo LIQ         2:00
18  BASSO Ivan LIQ              2:05
19  EIBEGGER Markus FOT         2:24
20  DIDIER Laurent SAX          2:53
 General Classification

1  VINOKOUROV Alexandre AST 24:09:42
2  EVANS Cadel BMC              1:12
3  MILLAR David GRM             1:29
4  KARPETS Vladimir KAT         1:30
5  NIBALI Vincenzo LIQ          1:33
6  PINOTTI Marco THR            1:40
7  GERDEMANN Linus MRM          1:50
8  BASSO Ivan LIQ               1:51
9  ROHREGGER Thomas MRM         1:56
10 PORTE Richie SAX             2:00
11 GARZELLI Stefano ASA         2:47
12 CUNEGO Damiano LAM           3:08
13 SCARPONI Michele AND         3:09
14 ARROYO David GCE             3:28
15 AGNOLI Valerio LIQ           3:38
16 DIDIER Laurent SAX           3:39
17 KISERLOVSKI Robert LIQ       4:05
18 JUFRE POU Josep AST          4:23
19 WEENING Pieter RAB           4:38
20 MOLLEMA Bauke RAB            6:05



Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Simon_MacMichael | 14 years ago

Evans certainly is thriving in the rainbow jersey, it seems to have given him self-belief that was perhaps missing before and you can see it in his results.

It was missed by the TV cameras amid all the other excitement, but from what he says in his blog, it sounds like he was taken down in the same crash that involved Nibali and the other Liquigas riders, which makes today's win all the more stunning.

kittyfondue | 14 years ago

I might want to spell Paul's name right, which is Sherwen. Sorry!

kittyfondue | 14 years ago

Unbelievable stage! I have new respect for Cuddles this year - I never rated him because he never seemed to take the races he was in by the scruff of the neck. But this year! The rainbow jersey seems to have given him a very large suitcase of courage (as Paul Sherwin would say) and he dug deep today. All credit to him. A ride with some real guts! Brilliant.

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