Alexandr Arekeev of the Acqua & Sapone team surprised the big name favourites at Tirreno-Adriatco on Thursday by winning the second stage and taking the overall race lead.

The 24 year-old was part of an early break that formed right from the start of the 202-km stage and then attacked alone on the final climb, to win his first race as a professional.

Arekeev finished 29 seconds ahead of Italy?s Daniele Contrini and Germany?s Sven Krauss. The main field, containing all the overall race favourites, finished 54 seconds behind after letting the breakaway gain 13 minutes advantage mid-way through the stage. In the overall standings, Arekeev leads Contrini by 32 seconds. Krauss is third overall at 35 seconds, with stage one winner Robbie McEwen of Australia fifth at 57 seconds.

?I?m very happy and very emotional because this is my first win as a professional. It?s hard to believe I?ve won the stage and taken the overall race lead,? Arekeev said.

?When we attacked at the start of the stage I didn?t think we?d stay clear but in the last 20kms I felt good and starting thinking I could win. I have to thank the Acqua & Sapone team because they have helped me a lot and have always believed in me.?

Arekeev raced in Italy as a young amateur and was signed by the Acqua & Sapone team in 2004. He is determined to keep the race lead but knows he will have to perform well in Sunday?s 20.5-km individual time trial and Monday?s mountain top finish to San Giacomo.

?I?ll try and do well overall and try and keep the jersey for as long as I can,? he said.

?I don?t know if I can win the overall race but I can climb pretty well and I?m okay in the time trials, so who knows, I might have a chance.?

The second stage of Tirreno-Adriatico was again raced in warm weather but two high-speed crashes marred the finish. Mexico?s Moises Aldape fractured his left collarbone, Spain?s Ivan Gutierrez suffered cuts and bruises and Frenchman Geoffroy Lequatre suffered head injuries. None of them will start Friday?s 213-km third stage from Marsciano to Macerata through the Apennine hills north of Rome.

Results

1 Alexandr Arekeev (Rus) Acqua & Sapone 203kms in 4.51.41
2 Daniele Contrini (Ita) Tinkoff Credit Systems 0.29
3 Sven Krauss (Ger) Gerolsteiner
4 Fortunato Baliani (Ita) Ceramica Panaria 0.31
5 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) T-Mobile 0.54
6 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole
7 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
8 David Kopp (Ger) Gerolsteiner
9 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Team CSC
10 Loyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2r Prévoyance

Overall standings

1 Alexandr Arekeev (Rus) Acqua & Sapone
2 Daniele Contrini (Ita) Tinkoff Credit Systems 0.32
3 Sven Krauss (Ger) Gerolsteiner 0.35
4 Fortunato Baliani (Ita) Ceramica Panaria 0.42
5 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Predictor 0.57
6 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank 1.01
7 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole 1.03
8 Beñat Albizuri (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 1.04
9 Matteo Priamo (Ita) Ceramica Panaria 1.05
10 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) T-Mobile 1.07