Pieter Weening of the Netherlands edged out Davide Malacarne to win the ninth stage of the Giro d’Italia on Sunday, while Cadel Evans retained the maglia rosa.
Orica-GreenEdge’s Weening had been part of a breakaway group and he apologized to Europcar’s Malacarne after he sprinted past him at the end of the final climb of the 172km leg from Lugo to Sestola for his second individual Giro victory.
A final burst from AG2R La Mondiale’s Domenico Pozzovivo saw the Italian finish third, 42 seconds behind, with the peloton coming in 1 minute, 8 seconds after Weening.
“The guys weren’t working perfect in the group and it went slightly uphill,” Weening said. “At the roundabout I saw everybody going the wrong way around and I came full speed on the right side, and I felt that this was the moment. Normally you wait for the climb, but this climb is not so steep to attack, so I thought I would attack before the climb.”
The top three in the overall standings remained unchanged, with BMC Racing’s Evans holding a 57-second advantage over Rigoberto Uran of Omega Pharma-Quick Step.
Tinkoff-Saxo’s Rafal Majka was third, while Pozzovivo moved up into fourth, 1:20 behind Evans.
“I think we have to be satisfied with our work so far,” Evans said. “The team, they put me in the position I’m in now. I’m very proud of my guys and we will rest well tomorrow.”
Despite a relatively flat opening half of the stage, the break took a while to form with the peloton maintaining a high pace.
A group of 14 riders eventually escaped 50km in and swiftly built an advantage of more than seven minutes as the peloton seemed happy to let them go, with no threat to the overall lead among the escapees.
However, with 35km remaining, BMC put their foot down and the peloton started slashing the gap, which dropped to 3:19 at the top of the second and penultimate climb.
Weening saw the danger and made his move, followed by Malacarne. The pair built up an advantage of more than 35 seconds with 12km remaining and that was up to a minute as they approached the steepest part of the final climb, with gradients of 14 percent.
The duo worked together, before becoming more cagey in the final kilometer, each waiting for the other to start the sprint. Malacarne made his move with 250m to go, but Weening rounded him to take his second victory in this year’s race, after helping Orica-GreenEdge win the opening team time trial.
Pozzovivo jumped from the peloton with less than 5km remaining, catching and passing Bardiani-CSF’s Enrico Barbin to finish third.
Yesterday was a rest day before today’s 10th stage, which is one for the sprinters — a flat 173km leg from Modela to Salsomaggiore.