Hansen wins Giro stage, Wiggins struggles

On a wet and wild day at the Giro d'Italia Australian Adam Hansen soloed to claim the biggest win of his career as pre-race favourite Bradley Wiggins lost time on his rivals.

In the Giro there are opportunities for riders like me to try this, but in the Tour (Tour de France) we have other goals with André Greipel and Jurgen Van den Broeck. Tonight we’ll definitely have a drink!

Hansen, who turns 32 on Saturday, clinched his first stage victory on a major tour since he turned professional in 2007.

The Lotto-Belisol rider finished 1 minute and seven seconds ahead of Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) and Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) at the end of the undulating 177km stage from San Salvo to Pescara.

"It was really tough but I had an incredible feeling crossing the line," he said. "I never thought I'd experience such a day as this.

"I've registered the best victory of my career, what a magnificent present to myself 24-hours before my birthday."

Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins (Sky) was the biggest name to fall foul of the weather, losing valuable time to all the major general classification contenders after crashing on a treacherously wet hairpin bend

After hitting the deck close to the finish as the rain came down Wiggins picked himself up to finish 55th, 2min 30sec behind Hansen, to slip to 23rd in the overall standings, 1min 32sec behind new leader Benat Intxausti (Movistar).

Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford reported Wiggins emerged unscathed from his fall but the Olympic time trial champion will now be hoping to make up for time lost in Saturday's time trial.

"Bradley's fine. There's no physical injury," said Brailsford. "Ultimately when you have difficult conditions like these and hard racing this type of thing can happen. It's the Giro.

"You can have good days and bad days and you have to wait until the end to tot them all up and see where you are.

"It's a setback, but Brad's still very much in the hunt. We've now got to take each day as it comes, focus on fully recovering tonight and hitting the time trial hard tomorrow. We'll see where we are tomorrow night and take stock of the situation then."

In the overall standings, new race leader Intxausti now leads by five seconds from Vincenzo Nibali (Cannondale), who like Wiggins also fell, with last year's Giro winner, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), eight seconds back in third.

BMC's Cadel Evans gained time and position after a successful navigation of the stage, moving from from 10th to sixth overall at 16sec behind Intxausti.

"It was a real test of our team and our equipment and the guys were really good," said Evans. "Daniel Oss was good at the start, monitoring the dangerous breakaways, and Danilo Wyss, Steve Morabito and Steve Cummings were always there to keep me out of trouble. Then Santaromita was there in the final in case something went wrong."

The race opened up when Hansen took command after forming part of a six-strong breakaway group that hit the front early on in the day's run.

He was joined in the break by Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli), Ioannis Tamouridis (Euskaltel), Maarten Tjallingii (Blanco), Dominique Rollin (FDJ), Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM).

Hansen and Sella then forged clear of the frontrunners near the Chieti climb 35km from the finish, with Hansen dropping the Androni Giocattoli rider to come home alone.

“This morning I knew I wanted to be in the breakaway," said Hansen. "This was a stage I had marked, I was very motivated because I thought the escapees could make it to the finish today.

"The moment I was alone with Sella I believed the victory was possible. On the climbs I wanted to put him under pressure and on the penultimate climb I left him behind.

"The hills weren’t long but very steep. Before that the cooperation in the group had been very good. Because Sella was the best placed in the general classification the peloton kept our lead under control.”

Saturday's eighth stage is a 54.8km race against the clock between Gabbice Mare and Saltara, with Wiggins desperate to make inroads after a trying first week on

Stage 7: 177km, San Salvo to Pescara
1 Adam Hansen (AUS) Lotto-Belisol 4hr 35min 49sec      
2 Enrico Battaglin (ITA) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox 0:01:07      
3 Danilo Di Luca (ITA) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia            
4 Mauro Santambrogio (ITA) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia            
5 Damiano Caruso (ITA) Cannondale            
6 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC            
7 Stefano Pirazzi (ITA) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox            
8 Arnold Jeannesson (FRA) FDJ            
9 Pieter Weening (NED) Orica-GreenEDGE            
10 Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) Garmin-Sharp            

General classification
1 Benat Intxausti (ESP) Movistar 28hr 30min 04sec      
2 Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) Astana 0:00:05      
3 Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) Garmin-Sharp 0:00:08      
4 Giampaolo Caruso (ITA) Katusha 0:00:10      
5 Mauro Santambrogio (ITA) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 0:00:13      
6 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC 0:00:16      
7 Robert Gesink (NED) Blanco 0:00:19      
8 Ivan Santaromita (ITA) BMC 0:00:28      
9 Pieter Weening (NED) Orica-GreenEDGE 0:00:29      
10 Robert Kiserlovski (CRO) RadioShack Leopard 0:00:34      

SBS will broadcast daily Giro d'Italia highlights at 6:00pm on SBS 2, and will show eight key stages live on SBS 2 and online right here at Cycling Central.

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