Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) beat Davide Malacarne (Europcar) in a two-up sprint to win stage 9 of the Giro d’Italia on Sunday.
The two were on their own in the finale to the 174km leg from Lugo to Sestola, chased by Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale), who had jumped away from the diminished peloton containing race leader Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).
In the rush to the finish Weening took the inside, shorter line and edged Malacarne for the stage victory as behind, Pozzovivo took third on the day and nearly a half-minute back from Evans and the other contenders for the overall.
“The last few days I lost some time after a perfect first week but I’m not here for the overall rankings,” said Weening. “I was a bit tired yesterday but today was a perfect day to do something nice. I could see I wasn’t one of the best climbers so I decided to attack with 20km to go, but Malacarne was very strong on the last climb and I had to wait right until the end to attack.”
Stage 9 saw a big break go after a pileup 40km in: Malacarne, best placed at 9:27 overall; Weening; Julien Berard (AG2R La Mondiale); Jackson Rodriguez (Androni Giocattoli); Eduard Vorganov (Katusha); Leonardo Duque (Colombia); Salvatore Puccio (Sky); Jonathan Monsalve (Neri Sottoli); Oscar Gatto (Cannondale); Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida); Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Belisol); David Tanner (Belkin); Enrico Barbin (Bardiani-CSF); and Marco Bandiera (Androni Giocattoli).
It seemed the bunch would let them go without complaint, but then first Garmin-Sharp, then BMC picked up the pace, and the gap started coming down.
As the kilometers ticked down along with the escapees’ advantage, first Tanner, then Weening went for it. Tanner didn’t last, but Weening did, and Malacarne soon joined him, with Berard and Rodriguez chasing. The maglia rosa was 3:45 back with 12km to go.
When Pozzovivo launched his late pursuit he quickly swept through the remnants of the break to take third on the day and move into fourth overall at 1:20 behind Evans.
But the battle for the stage was already done, with Weening the victor.
“He was really strong,” said Weening of Malacarne. “I couldn’t drop him. I heard that we had enough time in front of the other guys so I could gamble a little bit in the last few hundred meters. I was stronger in that final uphill.”
As for Evans, he was content with the way the first week of the Giro had played out, despite Pozzovivo taking back some time on the stage. The Aussie leads the Giro by 57 seconds over Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) with Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) third at 1:10 and Pozzovivo fourth at 1:20.
“I think we have to be satisfied with our work so far,” he said. “I’m very, very happy with the team. I think we’ll rest happily tomorrow.”
Monday brings a rest day. The Giro resumes Tuesday with stage 10, a flat 173km leg from Modena to Salsomaggiore Terme.