Fabian Cancellara (CSC) is set to celebrate overall victory at Tirreno-Adriatico on his 27th birthday on Tuesday after defending the leader?s jersey from a late attack from Enrico Gasparotto (Barloworld) during Monday?s uphill finish to Castelfidardo.

Cancellara and Gasparotto went head to head on the climb to the finish, playing mind games as much as fighting it out, but were caught in the final three hundred metres of the tough 196km stage. Danilo Di Luca (LPR) then led out the dash to the finish line but Oscar Freire again showed his brilliant form by powering past him and Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) in the final metres.

Mark Cavendish (High Road) was dropped on the tough finishing circuits of the stage, crossing the line three minutes behind the leaders.

Cancellara leads Gasparotto by 16 seconds, with Sweden?s Thomas Lovkvist (High Road) third at 40 seconds. His impressive form on the climbs at Tirreno has made Cancellara a favourite for Milan-San Remo but he is focused on winning Tirreno on the day of his 27th birthday.

?I want to celebrating victory on my birthday tomorrow and then I?ll worry about Milan-San Remo,? he said.

?Gasparotto had to attack if he wanted to try and win but thanks to some great work by the team and some great form, I was able to respond.?

Oscar Freire took his second stage win in this year?s Tirreno-Adriatico but also denied success at makes him the man to beat on Saturday.

?It was a great finish for me and so I had to try and win it,? Freire said.

?The result shows my form is very good but this win has nothing to do with what will happen at Milan-San Remo. Of course I want to win it and I won?t take any risks in tomorrow?s final stage of Tirreno-Adriatico because I?ve already won two stages but winning here does not guarantee success at Milan-San Remo. Last year I didn?t win a stage and won San Remo but in other years I?ve won three stages here and lost San Remo.?

RIDERS PROTEST

The start of the sixth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico was delayed for five minutes as riders protested against the surprise drugs test that was recently imposed on Belgium’s Kevin Van Impe as he was preparing for his son’s funeral.

?We all want to support our colleague and send a clear message to those in charge,? Filippo Pozzato said in a statement read before the start of the stage.

?We?ll say yes a thousand times to a determined and responsible fight against doping, but today and with even stronger in the future, we say no a thousand times against the violation of our rights, the rights of every human being.?

TIRRENO-ADRIATICO STAGE SIX

1 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank 196km in 4hrs 46min 44secs
2 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas
3 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) LPR Brakes
4 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Quick Step
5 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Ag2r-La Mondiale
6 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) High Road
7 Emanuele Sella (Ita) CSF Group Navigare
8 José Serpa (Col) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni
9 Niklas Axelsson (Swe) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni
10 Markus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner all same time

TIRRENO-ADRIATICO: OVERALL

1 Fabian Cancellara (Sui) CSC 18hrs 30min 47secs
2 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Barloworld 16secs
3 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team High Road 40secs
4 Markus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner 53secs
5 Niklas Axelsson (Swe) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni 1im 32secs
6 Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Team CSC 1min 36secs
7 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas 1imn 50secs
8 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre 1min 51secs
9 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2r – La Mondiale 1min 53secs
10 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Slipstream at 1min 53secs.