Contador Wins Stage 9 of Giro, Takes Maglia Rosa
Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) leads the 2011 Giro d'Italia.
Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) leads the 2011 Giro d'Italia. The Spaniard surged away from the field to win the mountainous, 169-km ride from Messina to Etna in 4:54:08. Jose Rujano (Androni Giacattoli) finished second at 0:03, and Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone) took the sprint for third at 0:50.
The break of the day took a long time to form. After the peloton snuffed out a number of abortive sallies, nine riders escaped at 50 km. They were Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini), Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack), Mickael Cherel (Ag2r), Jan Bakelandts (Omega Pharma), Alessandro Vanotti (Liquigas), Pablo Lastras (Movistar), Filippo Salvini (Colnago), Mathias Frank (BMC Racing), and Joan Horrach Rippoll (Katusha). The bunch kept the break on a short leash, and the latter's advantage maxed out at five minutes.
The gap between hunters and hunted grew and shrank, but with 20 km left, the fugitives led the field by more than three minutes. Everyone, however, knew that the climb to the finish would decide everything.
On the lower slopes of the climb to the top of Mount Etna, the escapees began to attack each other. Popovych, Savini, Cherel, Vanotti, and Horrach were dropped, and with 13 km left, Visconti, Bakelandts, Lastras, and Frank led the field by 2:30.
Bakelandts attacked, and Visconti and Frank followed him. With 10 km remaining, the trio led the bunch by 2:00.
Maglia rosa Pieter Weening (Rabobank) was dropped from the lead group. Rujano attacked from the peloton. Ahead, Bakelandts attacked and dropped his companions.
With six km left, Contador attacked, and Scarponi followed. The Italian was dropped, and Contador passed Rujano, who took his wheel. The pair caught and dropped Bakelandts.
Contador attacked Rujano three times in the last five km. The third time, with two km remaining, was the charm. Behind, the other heads of state attempted to limit the damage. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) attacked the chase group but could not stay away.
In the overall, Contador leads Konstantin Sivtsov (HTC) by 0:59 and Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin) at 1:19. Tomorrow will be the 2011 Giro's first rest day. Stage 10 on Tuesday will be a flat, 159-km run from Termoli to Teramo. The stage has a slightly uphill finish, but a sprinter should win this one. Who will it be? Matt Cavendish (HTC)? Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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You'll find complete results and more photos from stage 9 here.