Belkov Takes Stage 9 of Giro d'Italia 2013
Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) finished second at 0:44, and Jarlinson Pantano (Colombia) finished third at 0:46. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) remains the maglia rosa.
Rain greeted the riders. After an earlier break was reeled in, the break of the day made its move at 21 km. Belkov, Pantano and Robinson Chalapud (both from Colombia), Juan Manuel Garate (Blanco), Ricardo Mestre (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Fabio Felline (Androni Giacattoli-Venezuela), Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox), Evgeni Petrov (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff), Michal Golas (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Tobias Ludvigsson (Argos-Shimano), and Alessandro Proni (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) sallied off of the front. Pirazzi and Chalapud dropped their companions on the day's first climb, the Category 2 Passo della Consuma, but Belkov caught them on the descent. On the next climb, the Category 1 Vallombrosa, Belkov was dropped again, but he caught and passed Pirazzi and Chalapud on the descent. With 37.3 km remaining, he led the chase group by 2:20.
Behind, Wiggins was dropped on the wet descents, and Garmin-Sharp went to the front to drop him for good. Astana joined the American squad, but the Tour de France champion, aided by teammates, rejoined the peloton. The bunch trailed Belkov by seven minutes.
Garate, Visconti, Pantano, and Petrov caught Pirazzi and Chalapud, but they trailed Belkov by 3:35 with 25 km left. At this point, the peloton was 4:48 behind the Russian. On the Category 3 Vetta le Croci, Belkov struggled, and some of the chasers began to close on him. Pantano was at 1:47 with 22 km left, with Pirazzi at 2:00, and the other chasers only seconds behind the Italian.
On the day's final climb, the Category 4 Fiesole, Belkov struggled again. Pantano attempted to ride down the Russian. Behind, defending champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) struggled and would eventually be dropped, losing more than a minute to his rivals by the end of the stage. The peloton began to reel in some of the break.
On the run to the finish, Belkov held off the pursuit. With one km remaining, he led by 1:14. In the last few hundred meters, the Katusha man thrust his fists to the skies. Pantano attacked Ludvigsson, but Betancur overtook him for second.
Belkov targeted this stage as one for a breakaway. "Although I'm a time trial specialist," he said, I decided that yesterday's time trial was very hard. I looked at the road book, and I thought a breakaway might get away today, and I thought it would be better to save my legs and try to get into it. I thought that was the best use of my energy.
"I knew they were riding very hard behind me, and I was never certain I would win. I simply did the best I could. In the final two km, I had so much cramp I could hardly think.
"I've won three team time trials, and this is my first individual win. I made a similar attack in the Tour of Turkey, but I was caught. It was good preparation for this race, and now I have my first individual win, which is very important for me."
In the overall, Nibali leads Cadel Evans (BMC) by 0:29 and Robert Gesink (Blanco) at 1:15. Tomorrow will be the 2013 Giro d'Italia's first rest day, but on Tuesday, Stage 10 will be a potential standing shaker. The 167-km ride from Courdenons to Altopiano del Montasio will feature the Category 1 Passo Cason di Lanza at 117 km and the Category 1 ascent to the finish. On the climb to the finish, a battle could occur between the GC contenders. Who will win it? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!