|Joaquim Rodríguez |
(image credit: Petit Brun CC BY-SA 2.0)
As expected, the flat start encouraged a break. Evgeni Petrov (Astana) got things going by being the first man to escape with Maciej Paterski (Liquigas-Cannondale), Diego Ulissi (Lampre-ISD), Marcos Garcia (Caja Rural) and Angel Madrazo (Movistar) joining him over the next few kilometres, then more men later . For a time, the five got their lead up to two minutes and they did well to stay out over the mid-course mountains, but by the time they reached the last climb only Petrov, Michael Albasini (GreenEDGE) and Nicki Sorensen (SaxoBank) survived - before Omega Pharma-Quickstep increased the pace and swept them up.
That last climb, Cat 1 climb to Bera-Ibardin, was always going to be the decider today. It might start off deceptively easy from 144.8km and it might remain so until 150km, but from there it becomes steadily steeper until, 500m before the finish line, it hits a torturous 18%. Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) chose it as the place to make his move, hammering at the pedals as he leaped away and left Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), who started the day with an equal overall time, completely unable to respond as he crossed the line with a 9" advantage to take the stage win and the lead in the General Classification. Sergio Henao of Sky was third, arriving 3" after Sanchez.
1. Joaquin Rodriguez Katusha 3h55'56"
2. Samuel Sanchez Euskaltel-Euskadi +9"
3. Sergio Henao Sky +12
4. Robert Kiserlovski Astana ST
5. Lars Petter Nordhaug Sky +16"
6. Michele Scarponi Lampre-ISD ST
7. Jurgen Van Den Broeck Lotto-Belisol +17"
8. Wout Poels Vacansoleil-DCM ST
9. Simon Spilak Katusha ST
10. Ryder Hesjedal Garmin-Barracuda ST
Best Brit: 120. Steve Cummings (Sky)
(Full results when available)