Wed, Mar 14, 2012 - Page 19 News List

Rodriguez claims penultimate stage

AP, OFFIDA, ITALY

Joaquin Rodriguez of Spain broke away in the final kilometer to win the penultimate stage of the weeklong Tirreno-Adriatico on Monday, while 40-year-old Chris Horner of the US maintained his overall lead.

Rodriguez, who rides for the Katusha team, timed 4 hours, 38 minutes, 27 seconds over the undulating 181km leg starting and ending in Offida.

Vuelta a Espana champion in 2010, Vincenzo Nibali of Italy, was second, while 2007 Giro d’Italia winner Danilo Di Luca was third, both with the same time as Rodriguez.

Horner finished fourth and still holds a five second lead over Roman Kreuziger of the Czech Republic in the overall standings. Nibali gained a six second bonus with his podium finish in the stage to trail Horner by six seconds.

The race ends with a 9.3km individual time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto, on the Adriatic coast.

“Tomorrow is a very difficult time trial for me and for RadioShack,” Horner said. “We hope to take the win and become the first American winner of the Tirreno-Adriatico. When I have good form I can win time trials, and I have good form now.”

Horner is racing for the first time since being concussed from a fall during the eighth stage of last year’s Tour de France. He was then diagnosed with an embolism in his lung.

The stage in the Marche region concluded with a 16.15km circuit that was repeated six times.

Seven riders gained more than a four minute lead at one point, while the remaining four were caught by the peloton with 6km to go.

After a series of failed breakaways in the final kilometers, Rodriguez timed his attempt perfectly on a slightly uphill section.

Many riders are using the coast-to-coast race as a warm-up for the Milan-San Remo, the season’s opening single-day classic on Saturday.

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