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Italian Bertagnolli claims Giro stage win

  • Story Highlights
  • Italian Leonardo Bertagnolli secures victory in the 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia
  • Bertagnolli moves away from breakaway rivals to seal biggest win of his career
  • Russian Denis Menchov remains in the leader's pink jersey with six stages left
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(CNN) -- Italian Leonardo Bertagnolli claimed the biggest victory of his career by winning the 161km 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia from Forli to Faenza.

Bertagnolli celebrates finishing alone to win Sunday's 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia.

Bertagnolli celebrates finishing alone to win Sunday's 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia.

The 31-year-old Diquigiovanni rider, who also won a stage in the 2005 Tour of Spain as well as victory in the 2007 San Sebastian classic, was part of a 16-man breakaway group that went clear early on the hilly stage.

Along with Belgian Serge Pauwels, Bertagnolli attacked his breakaway rivals and then left his companion with 12km remaining.

Pauwels nosed ahead of his group of pursuers on the line to take second place, less than a minute behind the winner, with Marco Pinotti of Italy third.

Russia's Denis Menchov held onto the race leader's pink jersey after finishing in a group of 15 riders, nearly two minutes down on Bertagnolli, that featured all the overall contenders apart from Lance Armstrong and former Giro winner Damiano Cunego, who finished a further minute down after being dropped on the final climb of the day.

Two other former winners, Ivan Basso and Stefano Garzelli, had broken away from Menchov's group and at one stage led them by over a minute before being reeled in with just 10km left.

Rababobank rider Menchov remains just 34 seconds ahead of 2007 winner Danilo Di Luca, but seven riders are separated by just over three minutes and there promises to be many twists and turns in the final six stages with three mountain-top finishes and a time-trial still remaining.

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