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Verbrugghe Wins Seventh Stage

May 13, 2006

SALTARA, Italy (AP) _ Rik Verbrugghe beat defending champion Paolo Savoldelli by 14 seconds Saturday to win the seventh stage of the Giro d’Italia.

It was the 16th career win for the Belgian rider of the Cofidis team, who attacked at an uphill section about five miles from the finish line. He crossed the line alone after completing the hilly 161-mile course from Cesena to Saltara in 6 hours, 42 minutes, 15 seconds.

Savoldelli, a two-time Giro winner, came in second, ahead of Luca Mazzanti and Jose Gutierrez Cataluna.

Sergiy Honchar of Ukraine regained the overall leader’s pink jersey that he had lost to T-Mobile teammate Olaf Pollack the previous day. Honchar led Savoldelli by five seconds overall. Ivan Basso was third 11 seconds back.

Verbrugghe was in a group of six who piled up a peak advantage of six minutes on the main group. As their lead sank dramatically in the closing miles, Verbrugghe launched his successful attack.

Sunday’s eighth stage, the first at high altitude, ends in the Apennines mountains. It was expected to produce a battle between the favorites for the overall victory _ Basso, Savoldelli, Damiano Cunego and Gilberto Simoni.

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