Stage 9: Lugo to Sestola, 172km
It was another one of those stages – not much happens until 10km from the finish and then it all kicks off. Pieter Weening added to Orica-GreenEDGE’s Giro glory by outfoxing Europcar’s Davide Malacarne to take the stage win, while a magnificent late attack by Domenico Pozzovivo stirred up the general classification.
Orica’s Weening ways
They may not be leading in the team classification any longer, but no one can deny that so far in this Giro, the biggest winners have been Orica-GreenEDGE. Today, it was the turn of Pieter Weening to keep the Australian team in the headlines with a foxy stage win after attacking the breakaway 19km from the finish. Riding their own race, Weening and Davide Malacarne worked together to fend off both break stragglers hoping to bridge and an awakened peloton which for a while seemed intent on shutting the break down. At various points on the final climb, Weening looked the worse for wear of the two, but that might just be his riding style – a style you could never call elegant.
Once under the flamme rouge, the two took the final kilometre almost as a stop-start race, with track stands and stare-downs aplenty until Weening gave a final kick to come round Malacarne and take the stage. In a touching bit of sportsmanship, during the post-stage interview, he apologised to Malacarne as he saw him walking past him.
[NB: This clip is about half an hour long – start halfway through and you’ll get Pozzovivo’s attack and the final few kilometres for Weening and Malacarne.]
VeloVoices rider of the day
Pieter Weening had a magnificent day, no doubt about it – a long-suffering domestique who saw his chance and took it. But he’s not my rider of the day. It is, in fact, the Ag2r rider who gave the GC a jolt. How significant Domenico Pozzovivo‘s brilliant late attack and subsequent jump in the GC is will only be known at the end of the Giro, but if you like your riders gutsy and willing to take chances, you have to love Pozzovivo’s performance today.
Yesterday Ag2r did a lot of work on the front of the peloton, chasing down everything that moved but for no reward. Today they were a bit more canny, coming to the front when they felt they needed to but leaving much of the work to BMC, Movistar and a strangely ‘now-you-see-them-now-you-don’t’ Garmin-Sharp. Once the peloton hit the final climb, it was obvious that they were going to leave the break to duke it out amongst themselves.
With 5km to the finish, Pozzovivo took off, bridging to teammate Alexis Vuillermoz and gaining nearly half a minute on the peloton before they knew what was happening. Tellingly, it was only Omega Pharma-Quick Step who made a concerted effort to chase him back – perhaps Rigoberto Uran sensed that Pozzovivo could prove to be a threat in the stages to come. But they reacted too late and Pozzovivo bridged and swept past break stragglers, finishing third and jumping from tenth in the GC to a threatening fourth. Why so threatening? Did you forget his time trial performance at the Vuelta last year? The only men to beat him were two world champions: Fabian Cancellara and Tony Martin. And guess what we have on Thursday? A time trial that has a profile not unlike that Vuelta stage…
Stage 9 result
1. Pieter Weening (Orica GreenEDGE) 4:25:51
2. Davide Malacarne (Europcar) same time
3. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) +0:42
4. Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) +1:08
5. Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) s/t
1. Cadel Evans (BMC) 38:49:34
2. Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +0:57
3. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) +1:10
4. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) +1:20
5. Steve Morabito (BMC) +1:31
6. Fabio Aru (Astana) +1:39
7. Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) +1:43
8. Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) +1:44
9. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +1:45
10. Robert Kiserlovski (Trek) +1:49
Points leader: Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ).
Mountains classification: Julian Arredondo (Trek).
Best young rider: Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo).
Team classification: Omega Pharma-QuickStep.