Cycling: Rodriguez returns to pink jersey as Rabottini wins

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The Independent Online

Italy's Matteo Rabottini won the 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia yesterday, holding off Joaquim Rodriguez in a close finish as the Spaniard took back the overall lead from Ryder Hesjedal.

On the second hill-top finish of the race, Rabottini crossed the line in 5hr 15min 30sec, edging out Rodriguez on the final curve of the 105-mile leg from Busto Arsizio to the Piani dei Resinelli, a hill-top outside Lecco on Lake Como.

It seemed as if Rodriguez had got the better of a tired Rabottini, who had led for more than 93 miles, but the Italian used up his last reserves of energy to go past the Katusha cyclist for his second professional victory and his first stage win in a Grand Tour.

Rabottini had emerged unscathed from a crash on the last descent as the lashing rain made the roads slippy. Pre-race favorites Ivan Basso, Michele Scarponi and Rodriguez accelerated in the last mile and a formidable finish from the Spaniard saw him leave his two rivals behind.

Rodriguez finished 25 seconds ahead of two-time winner Basso and defending champion Scarponi. He now has a 30-second advantage over previous leader Hesjedal in the overall standings and will wear the pink jersey for a fifth day tomorrow. Basso is third, 1 min 22 sec behind.