De Clercq outfoxes Giro field
Weening maintains lead into second week
Last Updated: 13/05/11 5:00pm
De Clercq: Attacked on the final climb to pull off the first win of his professional career
Bart De Clercq took a plucky victory on stage seven of the Giro d’Italia despite a last-gasp chase from the peloton.
The Omega Pharma-Lotto rider attacked with seven kilometres remaining and quickly built up a margin of 30 seconds on the climb up to Montevergine.
The first-year professional was caught in the final metres but was able to hold on to take the win by half a bike length from a fast-finishing Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) and Roman Kreuziger (Astana).
The final surviving member of the day’s five-man breakaway Lars Bak (HTC-Highroad) had struck out on his own as the riders passed through Mercogliano, only to be caught with just over 8km remaining on a day that looked likely to reward a solo attack.
The first mountaintop finish of the race did not impact the general classification with Dutchman Pieter Weening (Rabobank) clinging to his two-second advantage after a week of racing.
The 110km test was a short one by the Giro’s standards but featured the first second category climbs of the race as it moves south towards Sicily.
Unsurprisingly there was a battle to get into the day’s break, with the peloton eventually allowing five men to forge ahead after 14 km.
With the favourites seemingly content to mark one another closely ahead of steeper mountains to come, the lion’s share of the work was done by Rabobank and Acqua & Sapone to reel in the quintet.
As the field hit the 17km final climb Omega Pharma-Lotto signalled their intent by frequently attacking the lead bunch, with Francis De Greef the first of a number of riders to jump clear in a bid for glory.
As attack after attack failed, De Clercq chanced his arm on the switchback climb with a convincing dig that would ultimately decide the day.
Carlos Ochoa (Androni Giocattoli) and Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago) both tried in vain to bridge across to the young Belgian, who saw his bravery rewarded by the most slender of victories on the line.