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Joaquin Rodriguez takes Giro lead

5/15/2012

ASSISI, Italy -- Spain's Joaquin Rodriguez took the overall lead in the Giro d'Italia from Canada's Ryder Hesjedal on Tuesday after winning the hilly 10th stage with a sprint finish.

One of the pre-race favorites, Rodriguez finished the 116-mile leg from Civitavecchia to Assisi in 4 hours, 25 minutes, 5 seconds for his first Giro stage win. The Katusha rider is ahead of Hesjedal by 17 seconds. Paolo Tiralongo of Italy is 32 seconds back.

"The goal is the podium and to fight for the Giro victory," Rodriguez said. "The last week will be super tough and you've got to race intelligently."

Bartoz Huzarski of Poland was two seconds back in the stage. Italy's Giovanni Visconti finished third, four seconds behind.

Hesjedal was only six seconds behind in sixth place, but Rodriguez moved ahead of him courtesy of a 20-second time bonus for the stage victory.

The stage began at the port of Civitavecchia on Italy's west coast and crossed into Tuscany, with a difficult finish in the ancient hill town of Assisi.

Frank Schleck struggled and finished 26 seconds behind Rodriguez to drop out of the top 10. Filippo Pozzato withdrew before the stage after breaking his right hand in a fall at the end of the ninth stage. Pozzato accepted responsibility for the crash, which resulted in a multirider pileup.

Wednesday's stage is the race's longest, a 158-mile ride from Assisi to Montecatini Terme. The race ends May 27 in Milan.