Colombian Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez escaped to victory on the sixth stage of the Giro d’Italia more than 207km from Urbino to Porto Sant’Elpidio, Italy, on Friday, making the most of his wide knowledge of the local roads.
Italian Adriano Malori, who sprinted to second in the stage just over a minute behind, took over the leader’s pink jersey.
Rubiano was clearly the man of the day and has moved up to fourth overall, coming within 30 seconds of also taking the pink jersey.
“I started to understand in the final 10km that I could do it,” Rubiano said. “I know the roads because I’ve lived here for a couple of years, but I didn’t think it would be so tough.”
“My sports director [Gianni] Savio was shouting me on and I pedaled, even though at one point I felt my energy sapping,” he said.
Being so close to the pink jersey, Androni Giocattoli’s Savio says that is what they will be going for now.
“He will be the team leader over the next two days,” Savio said.
Rubiano broke clear of his fellow escapees with about 35km left to ride on a tough climb that left the rest of his breakaway group unable to respond.
Thereafter he managed to maintain a lead against four chasers right to the finish.
Malori outsprinted Pole Michal Golas to take 12 bonus seconds for finishing second, which was enough to ensure he took over the pink jersey.
“It’s the best day of my life, those who started cycling dream of wearing this jersey at least once in their life,” Malori said. “I know I’ll lose it tomorrow, but it doesn’t matter, I’m not thinking about that now. For me this is an unforgettable and wonderful day.”
Golas is now second overall, 15 seconds back, with Canadian Ryder Hesjedal two seconds further down after finishing in the peloton, just under two minutes behind the winner.
Lithuanian Ramunas Navardauskas, who started the day in pink, was dropped several times on climbs and lost touch with the peloton for the final time on the same climb where Rubiano made his long break for home.
The day began with a 15-man breakaway, although four riders were shed on the first climb of the day.
Sprinters Tyler Farrar and Thor Hushovd both abandoned along the way, reducing the competition facing world champion Mark Cavendish.
By the penultimate climb, it was down to nine men and Rubiano made his first attack there, although purely to take King of the Mountain points.
He was reeled back in, but attacked again on the next climb and this time he stayed away.
The peloton spent a long time controlling the breakaway’s gap at about six minutes, but having hauled it back to about four minutes, the chase abruptly stalled.
It was not until the final 10km that they started to eat into the lead, but they had left it too late and Rubiano was not to be caught.
Yesterday’s 202km Stage 7 takes the peloton into the Abruzze region and a demanding hilly course that should start to see the race favorites coming to the fore and the overall standings taking shape.