Updated: Rodriguez attacks for Tirreno win; Horner defends overall lead

Horner leads Italian WorldTour race with final time trial looming

Joaquim Rodriguez launched a blistering attack from a small group of overall contenders and barely held on to win stage 6 of Tirreno-Adriatico Monday in Offida.

After a long effort by Liquigas-Cannondale teammate Peter Sagan to pull Rodriguez (Katusha) back, Vincenzo Nibali sprinted up the right barriers for second — and a valuable six-second time bonus.

“I had good luck today. I finally decided to have a go after the team worked all the way up until the final kilometer,” said Rodriguez. “It was a long, long, long last kilometer and I’m glad I held on.”

Overnight leader Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) finish fourth, behind Danilo Di Luca (Acqua & Sapone), and retained his overall lead with one stage remaining in the “Race of the Two Seas.”

“It’s going to be a very difficult time trial,” Horner told VeloNews. “We’ll see if I can become the first American to win Tirreno-Adriatico. We are all on about the same level in the time trials. Normally, when I have the form, I can even win them, and I have the form now, so I am going to go for the win.”

Sagan went to the front of the group repeatedly in the closing 5km, neutralizing dangerous moves from Di Luca, Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago-CSF Inox) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD). The young Slovak fell just shy of pulling in Rodriguez at the line, but the work paid when Nibali jumped for the time bonus that drew him to just six seconds back on Horner.

“Horner demonstrated again today he’s very strong. It’s going to be a big fight tomorrow. I am super-motivated,” said Nibali. “I wanted the win today, but I got some time bonuses, so that makes it even tighter for tomorrow. It will be a true race of truth. The strongest man will win.”

Race results >>

Complete coverage of the 2012 Tirreno-Adriatico