Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) dashed to victory in a mass gallop in Saturday’s 197km sixth stage at the Tour de San Luis.
Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) finished safely in the main bunch to move one day closer to overall victory in the week-long race to open the 2012 season for some of the peloton’s biggest stars.
Saturday’s hilly stage saw a nine-man breakaway, including UHC’s Jonathan Clarke, try its luck against the main bunch, making some serious headway over the day’s main climb at a mid-race, first-category summit.
The sprinter teams found some help from the GC favorites to check the move with about 15km to go to set up the mass sprint.
Viviani out-kicked JJ Haedo (Saxo Bank), relegating the Argentine star to second for a second time this week racing on home roads. Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini) crossed the line third, ahead of Fran Ventoso (Movistar) and Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).
Leipheimer finished safely in the main pack to defend his 46-second lead to Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank). There were no major shakeups to the overall standings, with Dani Diaz (San Luis-Somos Todos) remaining third at 1:30 back.
The race wraps up Sunday with the 167km stage starting and finishing in San Luís in what should be another shot for the sprinters and a chance for Leipheimer to savor what should be his first GC win of the 2012 season in his new team kit at Omega Pharma-Lotto.