Ventoso steals Giro stage six win
Francisco Ventoso wins, Giro d'Italia 2011, stage six
Movistar sprinter Francisco Ventoso showed Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) a clean pair of heels to win the uphill finish to Thursday's sixth stage of the Giro d'Italia between Orvieto to Fiuggi.
Rabobank's Pieter Weening retained the pink jersey, maintaining his two-second lead from HTC-Highroad duo Kanstantsin Sivtsov and Marco Pinotti.
As is their wont, the bunch timed things to perfection, hoovering up the last man standing from the day's breakaway, Quick Step's Kristof Vandewalle, with a kilometre and a half to go.
Vandewalle had been part of a five-man group - formed with fewer than 10 kilometres covered - which also contained Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack), Colnago's Sacha Modolo, Omega Pharma's Jussi Veikkanen and Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil).
Left to dangle out ahead for most of the day, Popovych was the only real danger man, and the group's lead was pegged by the peloton once it reached a maximum of 5-45. The Ukrainian started the day 5-35 down on race leader Weening.
With 50km of the day's lumpy 216km stage to go, the pace became too much for Modolo, followed soon after by Veikkanen.
Behind, Lampre, Farnese Vini and Ventoso's Movistar team were all starting to get twitchy, massing on the front to ensure everything was timed to perfection.
The leading trio pushed on, working well together, with their lead down to a minute with 10km to go.
With the road beginning to steadily rise, it was reminiscent of the previous day's stage as tired riders were shelled out of the back of the peloton, with most of the big sprinters - bar Petacchi and Quick Step's Gerald Ciolek - already long gone.
Vandewalle decided this was the time to go it alone, leaving his two breakaway companions behind, who were soon swallowed up by a hungry main bunch.
Androni Giocattoli's Emmanuele Sella unsuccessfully tried to bridge the gap before the catch was made with a kilometre and a half to go and, despite Vandewalle's brave effort, we were in for a bunch sprint, of sorts.
Katusha's Danilo Di Luca made a bid for victory as the road ramped up again, while behind it was a case of every man for himself. This was certainly not sprint-train territory.
Ventoso hit the front with 300 metres to go, but with Petacchi on his shoulder and looking very much as though he would come past him to nick the win, the Italian couldn't or wouldn't finish off the job, easing up to virtually gift victory to the Spaniard.
The pained faces of the riders soon gave away just how steep and hard the finale had been; Petacchi said that having chased down Di Luca, he just had nothing left.
However, they will have to recover in time for Friday's seventh stage: the summit finish on the second-category Montevergine is certain to blow the race apart.
Giro d'Italia 2011, stage six: Orvieto to Fiuggi, 216km
1. Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar in 5-15-39
2. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-ISD
3. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
4. Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Katusha
5. Davide Appollonio (Ita) Sky
6. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD
7. Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Garmin-Cervelo
8. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Quick Step
9. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana
10. Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Acqua e Sapone all same time
63. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Sky at same time
106. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Cervelo at 1-52
151. Russell Downing (GB) Sky at 7-58
171. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad at 13-39
192. Adam Blythe (GB) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 17-29
Overall classification after stage six
1. Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank in 20-15-12
2. Kantantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad at 2 secs
3. Marco Pinotti (Ita) HTC-Highroad at same time
4. Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Garmin-Cervelo at 5 secs
5. Pablo Lastras (Spa) Movistar at 22 secs
6. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 24 secs
7. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 26 secs
8. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank at 28 secs
9. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo Bank-Sungard at 30 secs
10. Jose Serpa (Col) Androni Giocattoli at 33 secs
11. Thomas Lofkvist (Swe) Sky at 39 secs
16. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Sky at 50 secs
53. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Cervelo 4-29
125. Russell Downing (GB) Sky at 20-52
172. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad at 35-09
193. Adam Blythe (GB) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 50-10
Stage start in Orvieto
Five-man break lead here by Yaroslav Popovych
Kristof Vendewalle tries to escape
Safely in pink - and orange - overall leader Pieter Weening
Francisco Ventoso takes the stage win
Giro d'Italia 2011: Latest news
Blythe finding way in second Grand Tour
Leopard-Trek withdraws from Giro d'Italia
Leopard-Trek uncertain to continue in Giro
Tuesday's Giro stage in memory of Weylandt
Giro doctor describes actions to save Weylandt
Wouter Weylandt killed in Giro crash
Giro news shorts (May 8)
Cavendish likely to take Giro lead tomorrow
Giro 2011: Who will win?
Kennaugh to lead Team Sky in Giro's opening stage
Nibali's Giro fight with Contador may reach the courtroom
Riis defends Contador's participation in Giro
Cavendish set to start winning again at the Giro
Doping investigations force cyclists out of Giro d'Italia
Kennaugh replaces Pauwels in Sky's Giro line-up
Contador scouts out the Giro mountains
Cavendish and Millar top list of Giro-bound Brits
Lampre likely for Giro despite doping investigation
Giro announces record 23 teams to race
2011 Giro to start in Turin with team time trial
Giro goes one up on the Tour with spectacular route
Nygaard, Sciandri and Lloyd comment on 2011 Giro route
Nibali's Giro d'Italia?
Giro d'Italia 2011: Stage reports
Stage five: Weening holds on to take stage and maglia rosa
Stage four: Tearful Farrar and Leopard-Trek lead riders across stage four finish line
Stage three: Vicioso victory overshadowed by Weylandt crash
Stage two: Petacchi wins as Cavendish takes lead
Stage one: HTC-Highroad wins Giro's opening team time trial
Giro d'Italia 2011: Photo galleries
Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage four photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
Giro d'Italia 2011: Live text coverage
Giro d'Italia 2011 stage five live text updates
Follow the 2011 Giro d'Italia live with Cycling Weekly
Giro d'Italia 2011: Start list
Giro d'Italia 2011: Start list
Giro d'Italia 2011: TV schedule
Giro d'Italia 2011: British Eurosport TV schedule
Giro d'Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index