Giro d'Italia - Weening wins stage nine as Pozzovivo impresses

Dutchman Pieter Weening out-muscled Italy's Davide Malacarne in Sestola for stage nine of the Giro d'Italia as a late attack by Domenico Pozzovivo piled pressure on the GC favourites.

Giro d'Italia - Weening wins stage nine as Pozzovivo impresses

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Pieter Weening (Orica) a remporté sa deuxième étape sur le Giro, après 2011

Italian Pozzovivo (Ag2R-La Mondiale) moved up to fourth in the overall standings after finishing the 172km stage in third place, 26 seconds ahead of the maglia rosa group of race leader Cadel Evans (BMC).

But the glory went to Orica-GreenEdge's Weening, who attacked on the last of three climbs before outsprinting Malacarne to take the second individual Giro d’Italia stage of his career.

Weening and Malacarne were part of an initial 14-man group that broke clear of the peloton after a fast start on the flat roads around Bologna in Emilia-Romagna.

Weening, 33, attacked just before the final climb of the day, the Passo del Lupo, around 18km from the finish and was joined by Malacarne, the equally rangy Europcar rider, at the start of the Cat.2 ascent.

With the peloton riding around four minutes in arrears, the diminutive Pozzovivo danced on the pedals and soon reeled in the remnants of the break.

Despite having Pozzovivo hot on their heels, Weening and Malacarne came to an almost standstill inside the final 500m before 26-year-old Malacarne opened up the sprint, only to see Weening surge past to secure the third win of the race for the impressive Orica-GreenEdge following victory in the opening team time trial and former pink jersey Michael Matthews’ stage six win.

"Malacarne came back on my wheel on the final climb and he was really strong," said Weening. "I couldn’t drop him so I waited until the final kilometre. We had time on the chasers so I could gamble a bit."

While speaking to reporters Weening showed his class by breaking off to commiserate with the man who he had just beaten. "Sorry mate, sorry. You did a great job. Sorry," he said as Malacarne trudged past.

Pozzovivo crossed the finish line 42 seconds down to take third place, while Saturday’s stage winner, the Italian Diego Ulissi of Lampre-Merida, led the main pack over the line at 1:08.

With an extra four bonus seconds for his third place, Pozzovivo is now just 10 seconds behind third place Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) on the general classification, who trails BMC’s Evans by 1:10. Colombia’s Rigoberto Uran is second, 57 seconds behind the 2011 Tour de France winner.

The veteran Australian still holds a 1:45 advantage over the pre-race favourite, the Colombian Nairo Quintana of Movistar, as the race enters the second rest day.

FOURTEEN-MAN GROUP: A super-fast average speed of 47kmph over the first hour of racing meant a group did not form until the riders had completed the opening 50-odd kilometres.

Julien Berard (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Enrico Barbin (Bardiani CSF), Marco Bandiera (Androni Giocatolli), Jackson Rodriguez (Androni Giocatolli), David Tanner (Belkin), Oscar Gatto (Cannondale), Leonardo Duque (Colombia), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Jonathan Monsalve (Neri Sottoli), Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Belisol), Salvatore Puccio (Team Sky), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) and Davide Malacarne (Europcar) finally managed to extricate themselves from the pack and built up maximum lead of seven minutes.

Italy’s Monsalve crossed the summit of the Cat.3 Sant’Antonio climb in pole position before Australia’s Tanner put in a solo attack to crest the Cat.4 Rocchetta Sandri climb with a slender five-second lead over the escapees with 24km remaining. Weening then made his decisive move towards the start of the final climb, which peaked out at a leg-sapping 13 per cent.

BIG WINNER OF THE DAY: Weening may have added a second individual Giro win to his palmares but Pozzovivo moved up from 10th place on GC and now has a podium position in his sights.

BIG LOSER OF THE DAY: Six days in pink became a distant memory for Michael Matthews, who crashed heavily in early phase of the stage and was forced to ride with torn shorts and some serious road rash for most of the afternoon.

KEY MOMENT: Pozzovivo’s attack on the steepest part of the final climb is perhaps a taster of what we can expect from a mountain-heavy final week of racing.

TALKING POINT: Will Cadel Evans and the other race favourites regret not pinning Pozzovivo back? Only time will tell.

COMING UP: The riders take a break on Monday with the race’s second rest day before the action resumes on Tuesday with the flat, sprinter-friendly 173km stage ten from Modena to Salsomaggiore Terme.

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