Italian riders took advantage on the longest stage of the Giro to Peschici on Thursday, as the overall favourites kept their powder dry for the first mountain stage of the race on Friday.

Matteo Priamo (CSF Group) won the stage on the uphill finish, beating Spain?s Alan Perez Lezaun (Euskaltel) with a powerful acceleration to the line. Russia?s Nikolai Trusov was third at 27 seconds.

The three were part of the decisive 11-rider break that formed after an aggressive first hour of racing out of Potenza.

Britain?s Steve Cummings (Barloworld) was one of the most aggressive riders trying to get away but missed the one move that was allowed to go clear.

Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) was in the move, finished eighth at 40 seconds and managed to snatch the pink jersey.

The Italian national champion started the stage 13 seconds behind Matthias Russ (Gerolsteiner) but picked up six seconds in the sprints and then finished seven seconds clear. Visconti got the jersey thanks to better placing on the previous stages of the Giro.

The bunch finished at 11-34 with Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) leading them home. Tour de France winner Alberto Contador (Astana) was just behind him. The stage was shortened to 232km from the 265km planned to appease the riders after long transfers before and after each stage. The bunch responded to the olive branch offered by the organisers and raced at an average of 42.854km/h.

“I PSYCHED MYSELF AND RISKED EVERYTHING TO GET THE JERSEY”

Giovanni Visconti let out a scream when he was told live on television he had the taken the pink jersey.

?I really wanted it, I went after the intermediate sprints and then gave it everything in the final few hundred metres to gain time on Russ,? he said,

?I got the jersey because I had the ‘grinta’ -determination to go for it 400 metres from the line. Bramati told me to get the time bonus which was vital. I wasn?t bothered about winning the stage but wanted the jersey. I psyched myself up and risked everything in the last two corners.?

?Wearing the pink jersey pays me back for all the sacrifices me and my family have made. I?m from Sicily and my dad had to drive for hundreds of kilometres to take me to races when I was young. When I was a teenager I moved to Tuscany and I wasn?t easy being away from home.?

?I?m considered a talent for the future but it?s never easy when everybody expects so much from you.?

?I?ve ridden 25 races this year and was third three times but people said I had a poor spring. The truth is I?d only raced a few one-day races before the Ardennes classics and so it was impossible to be competitive.?

Visconti leads the overall favourites at the Giro by more than nine minutes but made it clear he does not think he can win the three-week race.

?I?ve no chance, me winning is total science fiction, but I do want to keep the jersey as long as possible,? he said.

?The pink jersey gives you extra strength and I?m pretty good at time trials, so I hope I can keep it at least until into next week.?

Visconti?s first test comes on Friday?s 180km seventh stage from Vasto to Pescocostanzo. The stage ends with a long climb into the Apennine mountains. The overall contenders will battle for the stage win and to test each other form. Visconti will try and hang on as long as possible and hope he keeps the jersey.

GIRO D’ITALIA 2008 STAGE SIX: RESULTS
1. Matteo Priamo (Ita) CSF Navigare 232km in 5hours 24mins 49secs
2. Alan Perez (Esp) Euskaltel at 8secs
3. Nikolai Trussov (Rus) Tinkoff at 27secs
4. Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank at 31secs
5. Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Astana at 32secs
6. Daniele Nardello (Ita) Saunier Duval at 36secs
7. Fransesco Gavazzi (Ita) Quick Step at 40secs
8. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Quick Step at 40secs
9. Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Slipstream at 43secs
10. Matthias Russ (Ger) Gerolsteiner at 47secs
British
145. David Millar (GB) Slipstream at 13min 4secs
157. Bradley Wiggins (GB) High Road at 13min 49secs
165. Geraint Thomas (GB) Barloworld at 16min
167. Steven Cummings (GB) Barloworld at at 16min
166. Mark Cavendish (GB) High Road at 16min
179. Charly Wegelius (GB) Liquigas at 16min 50secs

OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE SIX
1. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Quick Step 27hours 14min 04secs
2. Matthias Russ (Ger) Gerolsteiner at same time
3. Daniele Nardello (Ita) Saunier Duval at 1min 22secs
4. Alan Perez (Esp) Euskaltel at 4min 42secs
5. Fransesco Gavazzi (Ita) Quick Step at 5min 34secs
6. Matteo Priamo (Ita) CSF Navigare at 9min 7secs
7. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas at 9min 8secs
8. Danilo Di Luca (Ita) LPR at 9min 15secs
9. Morris Possoni (Ita) High Road at 9min 16secs
10. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas at 9min 16secs
British
76. David Millar (GB) Slipstream at 12min 40secs
144. Geraint Thomas (GB) Barloworld at 34min 53secs
155. Charly Wegelius (GB) Liquigas at 38min 58secs
158. Mark Cavendish (GB) High Road at 40min 24secs
159. Bradley Wiggins (GB) High Road at 40min 39secs
169. Steven Cummings (GB) Barloworld at 44min 48secs

imageBritish race fans’ favourite Swede Magnus Backstedt (right) featured in today’s break

imageCharly Wegelius (left) was hard at work for his Liquigas squad

All photos by Graham Watson

GIRO D’ITALIA 2008: STAGE REPORTS
Stage six: Italians clean up
Stage five: Millar denied by snapped chain
Stage four: Cavendish wins
Stage three: Bennati romps home
Stage two: Ricco wins Giro d’Italia second stage
Stage one TTT: Slipstream wins Giro team time trial

GIRO D’ITALIA 2008: NEWS
Aggressive Cummings comes away empty handed [stage six]
Millar speaks out after missing out in Giro [stage five]
Reaction to Cavendish’s Giro stage win
Cav hits back at Pozzato’s snipe
Cavendish: This is my biggest win [stage four]
Millar celebrates Slipstream Giro d’Italia success
Bettini looking for final Giro glory
Astana’s troubled build-up to the Giro
Petacchi banned for Salbutamol positive
Yates and Astana make last minute rush to Giro

GIRO D’ITALIA 2008: PHOTOS
Giro d’Italia 2008: Photo gallery. New photos added daily

GIRO D’ITALIA 2008: FEATURES
Tuesday Comment (May 13): Why Cavendish is a bona fide world-class star
Giro Britannia: how the Brits are doing in Italy
Giro d’Italia 2008 preview
Giro d’Italia 2008: who will win?
Giro d’Italia 2008: The British are coming
Giro d’Italia on Eurosport: TV schedule

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