Two days after clinching his first stage victory at Chieti, German Tony Martin scored again in a similar fashion in the sixth and final leg of the "Tour of the Regions", covering 130 km. between Perugia and the medieval hamlet of Sinalunga in the Siena province of Tuscany.
Just like he did 48 hours earlier, the boy from Thuringia soloed to the line after making his winning move with only a few kilometres left, when the road was tilting upwards; this time it happened on the climb leading to downtown Sinalunga. And this time he had luck on his side too, as previous escapees Pavel Kalinin of Russia and Filipe Gomes Sa' Rui of Portugal fell with just 2 km. to go, and the German could pass them. The Portuguese immediately got back in the saddle and managed to finish a good second, but the damage was done, and his hopes to take line honors dashed.
The bunch with all top contenders came in 22 seconds behind, and was led home by one of the main protagonists of the race, Robert Gesink of The Netherlands. But the undisputed stars of the contest were Luigi Sestili, Roman Kreuziger and Peter Velits. The Italian started the last stage with the overall leader's yellow and red mantle on his shoulders, and with an advantage of 24" over Kreuziger and 26" over the Slovak. So that marking his two most dangerous rivals proved enough for him to accomplish his mission: Luigi Sestili finished the stage in the same group - being consequently credited with the same time - as Velits and Kreuziger, and could eventually take the title back to the host country, three seasons after Antonio Quadranti's overall win (Kristian Fajt of Slovenia took the honors in 2003, Ukrainian Andriy Grivko followed twelve months ago), writing his name in a list that features many riders who later turned into stars of the professional peloton, the last one being a certain Yaroslav Popovych, winner of the Giro back in 2001.
Sestili seized the jersey after his win at Pompei in stage 2, and never relinquished it since, despite efforts from young and super-talented Roman Kreuziger (winner of Thursday's stage 3 at Macchiagodena) and Slovak Peter Velits, who succeeded in his bid for a podium position despite poor support from his teammates (actually the only other Slovakian athlete who finished the race was his twin brother Martin). Spain's Eduardo Gonzalo Ramírez and Saturday's stage winner Andrei Kunitski of Belarus filled the remaining top five spots, while Australian Simon Clarke got a top 10 final result, in the race that saw the boy from OZ also win the prologue and wear the yellow and red mantle for a few hours.
Luigi Sestili, aged 22, a mechanical engineer student from the town of Tolfa near Rome, usually races for the Lombardy-based team Palazzago AB Isolanti, coached by Olivano Locatelli, the man who discovered the talent of Popovych and tons of other future stars of the bunch. Will Sestili be the next one?
Australia, Austria, Belgio (Amuzza.com/Davo Equipe), Bielorussia, Francia, Germania, Giappone, Italia, Kazakistan, Lituania, Olanda, Polonia, Portogallo, Rep. Ceca, Slovacchia, Russia, Slovenia, Spagna (selezione Catalana) e Ucraina
Stage 6 (Perugia to Sinalonga, 130 km.): Top 10 Places
1. Tony Martin (Germany) - 03h03'32'' (42.499 kph)
2. Filipe Gomes Sa' Rui (Portugal) - at 11"
3. Robert Gesink (Holland) - at 22''
4. Riccardo Riccò (Italy) - at 23"
5. Roman Kreuziger (Czech Republic) - s.t.
6. Alexandre Cabrera (France) - s.t.
7. Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez (Spain) - s.t.
8. Peter Velits (Slovakia) - s.t.
9. Luigi Sestili (Italy) - s.t.
10. Pieter Jacobs (Belgium) - s.t.
30th Giro delle Regioni - Final GC: Top 10 Places & More
1. Luigi Sestili (Italy) - 21h06'56" (39.065 kph)
2. Roman Kreuziger (Czech) Republic - at 24"
3. Peter Velits (Slovakia) - at 26"
4. Eduardo Gonzalo Ramírez (Spain) - at 43"
5. Andrei Kunitski (Belarus) - at 48"
6. Robert Gesink (Holland) - at 48"
7. Pieter Jacobs (Belgium) - at 01'01"
8. Michael Muck (Germany) - at 01'01"
9. Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic) - at 01'18"
7. Pieter Jacobs (Belgium) - at 01'01"
10. Simon Clarke (Australia) - at 01'34"
... 14. Riccardo Riccò (Italy) - at 02'14"
16. Tony Martin (Germany) - at 02'28"
19. Filipe Gomes Sa' Rui (Portugal) - at 02'44"
28. Eros Capecchi (Italy) - at 11'08"
32. Paul Brousse (France) - at 13'02"
37. Christopher Sutton (Australia) - at 15'36"
56. Mathew Goss (Australia) - at 38'29"
62. Nicholas Sanderson (Australia) - at 45'57"
65. James Meadley (Australia) - at 49'20"
Points Classification (White Jersey)
Winner: Luigi Sestili (Italy)
Mountains Classification (Grey Jersey)
Winner: José Martins (Portugal)
U21 Riders Classification (Grey Jersey)
Winner: Roman Kreuziger (Czech Repubblic)
Sprints Classification (Sky Blue Jersey)
Winner: Pavel Kochetkov (Russia)
Click here for full stage results.
Click here for full final standings of the race.