Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) won the first mountain stage of the 2012 Giro d’Italia ahead of Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD), while Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) moved into the overall lead.
Scarponi attacked from the front of a group of approximately 40 riders within the final kilometre on the first summit finish of the race and was joined by Tiralongo, who surged clear in the final 100m to claim victory.
Defending champion Scarponi, who earned a 12-second time bonus, claimed valuable time over his main rivals in the general classification, but it was Garmin’s leader, Hesjedal, who took over the race lead from Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD).
A breakaway of Fumiyuki Beppu (Orica-GreenEDGE), Matteo Rabottini (Farnese-Vini), Reto Hollenstein (Netapp) and Mirko Selvaggi (Vancasoleil-DCM) went clear within the first 40km and rode to an advantage of more than nine minutes.
A host of smaller climbs, including the category three Colle Galluccio midway through the stage, proved plenty of opportunity to sap the legs before the final climb, the category two ascent to Rocca di Cambio at 1,392m.
The breakaway’s advantage began to tumble as the climb approached, while previous race leader Malori was spat out of the back as soon as the road ramped up, ending his hopes of staying in the maglia rosa after moving into the jersey on the previous stage.
Rabottini was the last of the escapees to stay clear, and Jose Herrada (Movistar) and Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago-CSF) jumped from the front of the peloton and soon rode away from Rabottini to hold a lead of just 30 seconds over the main bunch with 10km remaining.
The road descended briefly before the final 1.3km climb to the finish, at which point Pirazzi was swamped by the chasing bunch and Herrada was caught soon after.
The left Scarponi to attack within the final 700m and the 32-year-old was soon joined by Tiralongo, who edged out his compatriot for third, while Frank Schleck (Radioshack-Nissan-Trek), two seconds adrift of the lead duo, won the sprint for third ahead of Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).
Giro d’Italia stage seven – result
1) Paolo Tiralongo (ITA) – Astana – 5:51:03 hours
2) Michele Scarponi (ITA) Lampre-ISD – same time
3) Frank Schleck (LUX) – RadioShack-Nissan-Trek +3″
4) Joaquim Rodriguez (SPA) Katusha – same time
5) Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) – Garmin-Barracuda +5″
6) Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) – Colnago-CSF Inox +9″
7) Daniel Moreno Fernandez (SPA) – Katusha – same time
8) Ivan Basso (ITA) – Liquigas-Cannondale – same time
9) Mikel Nieve Ituralde (SPA) – Euskatel-Euskadi +11″
10) Gianluca Brambilla (ITA) – Colnago-CSF Inox – same time
1) Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) – Garmin-Barracuda – 26:16:53 hours
2) Paolo Tiralongo (ITA) – Astana +15″
3) Joaquim Rodriguez (SPA) – Katusha +17″
4) Christian Vande Velde (USA) – Garmin-Barracuda +21″
5) Peter Stetina (USA) – Garmin-Barracuda +26″
6) Daniel Moreno Fernandez (SPA) – Katusha – same time
7) Roman Kreuziger (CZE) – Astana +35″
8) Ivan Basso (ITA) Liquigas-Cannondale + 40″
9) Giampaolo Caruso (ITA) Katusha +45″
10) Dario Cataldo (ITA) Omega Pharma-QuickStep +46″