Italian Oscar Gatto deftly leapt away from the field on the climb to the village of Tropea to win today's Giro d'Italia stage. This deserved victory caps a couple days of very active riding by the Farnese Vini rider, who was pursued by none other than three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador on a day the main favorites were not expected to show their hand. Contador took a 12 second bonus for second place, several seconds ahead of the bunch sprint won by Alessandro Petacchi for third.
The stage was fairly quiet as the Giro d'Italia raced to the toe of the boot, the southernmost tip of the Italian peninsula. However, this was no sprinters' event, as the road rose precipitously in the last 2km from the shore of the Tirrhenian Sea to the hilltop village of Tropea, host of a Giro stage in 2005 won by classics hero Paolo Bettini. Gatto's win showed his all-round abilities and aggressive spirit, while Contador's attack was a product of either boredom or great form. The general classification riders have been waiting all week for their portion of the race to begin, and tomorrow's climbs on Mount Etna should cure their impatience. But for the Giro's biggest name, today was a fine day to send his rivals a message. The gap of 7 seconds to the field, plus his time bonus, means Contador is now only 13 seconds behind the leader Pieter Weening of Rabobank, and he could well be in pink when tomorrow's race is over. Stage results:
- Oscar Gatto, Farnese Vini
- Alberto Contador, Saxo Bank, s.t.
- Alessandro Petacchi, Lampre, at 5"
- Alexander Kristoff, BMC, s.t.
- Roberto Ferrari, Androni, s.t.