Bennati Snares Stage 9 of Giro
Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) has won his second stage of this year's Giro. The Italian speedster took a bunch sprint in a photo finish to win Stage 9, a flat, 218-km run from Civitavecchia to San Vincenzo, in 5:30:06. Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) finished second, and Robbie McEwen (Silence) took third. Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) remains the maglia rosa.
The aggression started in the first km. Yuri Krivtsov (Ag2r) attacked, and Mickael Buffaz (Cofidis) joined him. Neither man was a GC threat, so the peloton let them go. At 65 km, they led the field by 9:25. Quick Step rode tempo to peg the lead. Eventually, Milram and Gerolsteiner joined the Belgian squad, and the escapees' lead fell to 1:45 with 20 km left. Five km later, the bunch was within 0:30 of the break.
Bettini attacked, and Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval) and Emmanuele Sella (CSF) joined him. Bettini and Ricco threw in the towel, but Sella overtook the break and kept going. The peloton, however, kept him on a short leash and reeled him in with 10 km remaining.
Lampre, High Road, Milram, and Liquigas battled for control of the peloton. Oscar Gatto (Gerolsteiner) led out teammate Robert Forster on the left, but Bennati came off of Erik Zabel's (Milram) wheel. Bettini charged after the Lampre man and nearly overtook him. The world champion lost by a wheel's width.
In the overall, Visconti leads Matthias Russ (Gerolsteiner) by 0:34 and Gabriele Bosisio (LPR Brakes) by 5:53. Tomorrow will be the first of the Giro's two rest days. On Tuesday, Stage 9, a 39.4-km individual time trial from Pesaro to Urbino, will give an indication of who has the form to win this year's Giro. The course is flat during its first half but uphill during its second. Will the stage go to a climber such as Denis Menchov (Rabobank) or Alberto Contador (Astana), or will more of a flatlander hold his own on the uphill sections to win? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!