Slovakian Peter Sagan warmed up for this weekend’s Milan-SanRemo classic by powering to victory, his first of the season, in the rain-hit sixth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico on Monday.
Sprint specialist Sagan, one of the favourites for the season’s first major one-day race on Sunday, finished ahead of German Gerald Ciolek with Belgian champion Jens Debusschere finishing in third place.
Colombian Nairo Quintana, of Movistar, retained the overall leader’s blue jersey, following his mountaintop victory in the snow on Sunday.
Sagan, taking his first win for the Tinkoff team, was given a late boost as a host of other victory contenders, including Britain’s Mark Cavendish, were distanced in the latter stages.
It was his first victory since June 2014 and has come in timely fashion.
“Has it been nine months? Well I’m really happy then,” Sagan told Rai, adding that even team leader Alberto Contador was put to the task.
“Even Alberto was contributing.”
He added: “I hope it’s the beginning of a new period for me.”
A day after being subjected to blizzard-like snow on stage five’s climb to Terminillo, the peloton had to endure just over five hours of being lashed by rain on Monday’s 210 km ride from Rieti to Porto Sant’Elpidio.
Despite the challenging conditions an early breakaway attempt by three riders that took off after 15km was reeled in with 50km remaining, although Astana’s Alessandro Vanotti continued his earlier attempt by soloing away from the bunch.
The Italian was joined by Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R) in the final 28km as they began two laps of a 14km circuit, and the Frenchman was left on his own 12km out only to be reeled in as the sprinters’ teams upped the pace.
The 50th edition of the race concludes on Tuesday with a 10km time trial during which Quintana will bid to become the first Colombian to triumph.
The 2014 Giro d’Italia winner holds a 39sec lead on Dutchman Bauke Mollema, with fellow Colombian Rigoberto Uran third overall at 48.
Frenchman Thibaut Pinot remains fourth, at 57sec while defending champion Alberto Contador is fifth with a deficit of 1min 03sec. – Agence France-Presse