Paolo Tiralongo of Italy won the seventh stage of the Giro d'Italia on Saturday, while Ryder Hesjedal replaced Adriano Malori as the overall leader to become the first Canadian to wear the pink jersey.

Tiralongo tussled with defending champion Michele Scarponi in the final 600 yards of the steep climb to the line before finishing the 126 mile leg from Recanati to Rocca di Cambio in 5 hours, 51 minutes, 3 with a final sprint.

Hesjedal crossed the line in fifth place, just behind Joaquim Rodriguez, to take an overall lead of 15 seconds from Tiralongo.

Frank Schleck, one of the favourites to win the race, was three seconds behind Tiralongo in third. Two-time winner Ivan Basso finished eighth.

Breakaway

Fumiyuki Beppu, Matteo Rabottini, Reto Hollenstein and Mirko Selvaggi broke away to build a gap of nine minutes on the peloton only 3 miles into the stage. It was not until the climb up the category-3 Colle Galluccio that their lead started to be reduced.

Rabottini took off on his own in the final 18 miles before being joined by Stefano Pirazzi 10 miles from the finish. However, Pirazzi's chances of victory were dashed when he took a corner wide heading into the final stretch.

Jose Herrara led going into the final mile but was caught 700 yards from the line, seemingly setting up Scarponi for his first stage win of this year's race. But Tiralongo went around him in the final 100 yards for the Astana cyclist to cross first.

Gianni Meersman became the fifth rider to quit the Giro, after Pablo Lastras Garcia, Tyler Farrar, Thor Hushovd and Romain Feillu retired on Friday.

Stage 8 on Sunday is a 142 mile leg from Sulmona to LagoLaceno with another uphill finish.

Source: AP