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By VeloNews Interactive wire services , Copyright AFP2002
Alessio’s Franco Pellizotti won Tuesday’s sixth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, a 208km run from Rapagnano to Montegranaro.
Pellizotti held off compatriots Rinaldo Nocentini and Paolo Bettini in an all-Italian podium after a sprint finish but Holland’s Erik Dekker retains the leader’s red and yellow jersey.
It was a red-letter day for the mop-topped 24-year-old from Bibbione in the northern region of Friuli near the Slovenian border who punched the air as he crossed the line for his first professional win in his second year.
He had impressed greatly in last year’s Tour of Spain when he finished 20th overall.
In the longest stage of the weeklong race the winner only hit the front some 25m from the line.
Nocentini looked to have the race in the bag 150m out but it was fast-finishing Pellizotti who breached the line first with a perfectly-timed finish to land the penultimate stage of the event known as the ‘Race of
Two Seas’ as it starts on the Tyrrhenian coast before crossing Italy to finish on the Adriatic shore. But despite a memorable day for Pellizotti it is Dekker who must now fancy his chances of winning the race, with only the last stage – a relatively undemanding 162km jaunt around the traditional finishing town of San Benedetto del Tronto to negotiate. The Dutchman, who rides for Rabobank, took charge of the event by winning Sunday’s time trial in Rieti and has held off the challenge of closest rival Danilo Di Luca over whom he has an 18sec cushion going into the last stage.
World champion Oscar Freire Gomez, of the Mapei team, also has the slenderest of chances of overhauling Dekker, the World Cup winner who was last December voted Holland’s male sports personality of the year. Di Luca, who will spearhead the Saeco’s bid for the Milan-San Remo classic on Sunday, must now decide whether to go all out for victory Wednesday or conserve energy with San Remo in mind.
Tirreno-Adriatico, Stage 6
1. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) 208km in 6:01:36 (average speed 35.509 kph);
2. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) same time;
3. Paolo Bettini (Ita) at 0:02;
4. Giuliano Figueras (Ita) s.t.;
5. Danilo Di Luca (Ita) s.t.;
6. Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) s.t.;
7. Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) at 0:05;
8. Francisco Cabello Luque (Spa) s.t.;
9. Oskar Camenzind (Svi) s.t.;
10.Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) s.t.
1. Erik Dekker (Ned) 24:10:46 (average speed 37.174 kph);
2. Danilo Di Luca (Ita) at 0:18;
3. Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) at 0:20;
4. Ruslan Ivanov (Mol) at 0:23;
5. Guido Trentin (Ita) at 0:24;
6. Paolo Bettini (Ita) s.t.;
7. Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) at 0:29;
8. Jan Hruska (Cze) at 0:30;
9. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) at 0:32;
10. Jorg Jaksche (Ger) at 0:36.