Joaquim Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) topped the infamous stage to the Montelupone climb today for the second year in a row, maintaining his record of being the only rider to ever win this stage, as it was only introduced, last year.
Rodriguez's victory also added to Caisse d'Epargne's total European domination, as he took the stage and moved into the overall lead in Tirreno-Adriatico, while his teammate Luis-Leon Sanchez took today's stage and moved into the lead in Paris-Nice.
The stage today saw a break go early on the Passo di Cornelli climb containing Giuseppe Palumbo (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo), Johann Tschopp (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Giampaolo Cheula (Barloworld), Jérôme Coppel (Française des Jeux) and Marcin Sapa (Lampre-NGC).
An enormous effort by teams Caisse d'Epargne and Danilo DiLuca's LPR-Brakes chased down the breakaway before the start of the second of two ascents up the Montelupone climb.
The grueling stage, which like last year, ended with a 200-meter ramp of 21 percent up to the finish line, caused wreckage within the peloton.
Last year, many riders had to walk up it, but this year, not as many had to.
Rodriguez launched himself right before that final climb ahead of a Diquigiovani-controlled peloton, who were looking out for their man David Rebellin.
Rebellin came in second on the day to slot into third overall, while previous leader Julien El Farez (Cofidis), who took the leader's jersey on day one, limited the damage magnificently against the peloton's big-name riders to hold onto second overall.
Tomorrow, the all-decisive 30-kilometer time-trial awaits the riders and will certainly shake up and possibly solidify the classification.