Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) sealed overall victory as Adriano Malori (Movistar) won against the clock on stage seven of Tirreno-Adriatico.
Malori stormed to his second individual time trial success of the season, having also won at the Tour de San Luis, beating off elite competition to do so.
World champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) missed a top-three place for the third time this season, but Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and Sir Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) finished second and third respectively.
Needing only to avoid disaster meanwhile, Alberto Contador posted 10’54” to comfortably maintain his overall lead and win the blue jersey.
British time trial champion Alex Dowsett (Movistar) was among the first riders to hit the 9.1km course, setting an early benchmark of 10’33”.
Australian counterpart Michael Hepburn (Orica-GreenEDGE), a stage winner at the Tour of Qatar, was another early starter but could not match the Essex rider’s pace as he crossed in 10’46”.
Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) knocked Dowsett off top spot however, going one second faster but his lead, too, was short-lived.
Malori’s power came to the fore on the short course as he led at the intermediate time check, and maintained his pace to the end by posting a stunning time of 10’13”.
World champion Martin, who performed so well in the team time trial, started almost as the Italian finished but paid for a slow start as he crossed the intermediate point fourth.
A strong finish to his effort ensured he crossed in a provisional second place, 15 seconds slower than Malori, but first Wiggins and then Cancellara bettered him.
Wiggins’ effort, his second individual outing against the clock this season, showed encouraging signs for the season ahead as he posted 10’24” but Spartacus showed he is approaching top form in a season in which he is expected to tackle the hour record.
Catching his minute man, Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp), under the flamme rouge, the ease with which he passed the Irishman showed he remains in a different class when it comes to racing against the clock.
The only rider to come close to Malori, Cancellara turned on the power in the final kilometre, crossing the finish line out of the saddle in 10’19”.
With the three world championship medallists having finished their efforts, Malori’s lead appeared insurmountable and attention turned instead to the race for the jerseys.
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) was two points clear of Contador heading into the final stage in the points classification, but despite an encouraging time – posting 10’52” – the Slovakian was unable to add to his total.
Though Contador was virtually assured of the blue jersey, boasting an overall lead of more than two minutes prior to the stage, a podium place and WorldTour points were still up for grabs.
Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) was one of the biggest losers, posting 11’43” to drop out of the top ten, while Team Sky’s Mikel Nieve’s time of 11’22” saw him slide down the rankings from sixth to tenth.
Michele Scarponi (Astana) was the main beneficiary, climbing to eighth while Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) posted 10’53” to put the pressure on Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) in third overall.
Kreuziger responded by posting exactly the same time however, while Nairo Quintana (Movistar) went two seconds faster to maintain his second place overall.
It left Contador, the last rider on the road, to round off the stage and though he as surprisingly beaten by Quintana he was left to celebrate overall a comprehensive overall victory.
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Tirreno-Adriatico 2014: stage seven – result
1) Adriano Malori (ITA) – Movistar – 10.13
2) Fabian Cancellara (SUI) – Trek Factory Racing +6”
3) Sir Bradley Wiggins (GBR) – Team Sky +11”
4) Tony Martin (GER) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +15”
5) Tom Dumoulin (NED) – Giant-Shimano +19”
6) Alex Dowsett (GBR) – Movistar +20”
7) Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +22”
8) Manuel Quinziato (ITA) – BMC Racing +23”
9) Stijn Devolder (BEL) – Trek Factory Racing +24”
10) Luke Durbridge (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE +26”
1) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Tinkoff-Saxo – 25.28.45
2) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar +2’05”
3) Roman Kreuziger (CZE) – Tinkoff-Saxo +2’14”
4) Jean-Christophe Peraud (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +2’39”
5) Julian Arredondo (COL) – Trek Factory Racing +2’54”
6) Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +3’04”
7) Robert Kiserlovski (CRO) – Trek Factory Racing +3’09”
8) Daniel Moreno (ESP) – Katusha +3’16”
9) Michele Scarponi (ITA) – Astana – ST
10) Mikel Nieve (ESP) – Team Sky +3’19”