Gonzalez Wins Stage 9 of Giro
Fred Gonzalez (Acqua e Sapone) has won Stage 9 of the Giro d'Italia. The two-time American champion stole a march on Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) and held on to win in 4:04:38. Angelo Furlan (Alessio) finished third, and Damiano Cunego (Saeco) remains the maglia rosa.
Because of a headwind that became a crosswind, the early racing was slow. Only at 65 km was an attack made. At that point, Raffaele Illiano (Colombia-Selle Italia) and Marco Vanotti (De Nardi) sallied off of the front. The Fassa Bortolo-led peloton kept the break on a short leash, with the lead maxing out at 1:30.
The wind changed direction and became a tailwind. The chase became serious, and a 50-rider crash occurred. The acceleration and the wind split the peloton into three groups. With 20 km left, the maglia rosa group, which was the lead chase group, reeled in the break.
Formaggio Pinzolo Piave, Fassa Bortolo, and Lotto led the field into the final km. Rodriguez took Petacchi's wheel and jumped the Italian with 300 m left. Because the finish was slightly uphill and because Petacchi felt that it was too early to start sprinting, he let the American get two bike lengths on him. Rodriguez held on to one wheel of his advantage for the win.
In the overall, Cunego leads teammate Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) by 0:10 and Franco Pellizotti (Alessio) by 0:28. Tomorrow will be the 2004 Giro's first rest day. Petacchi, who has won four stages, will contemplate what he has won. The 22-year-old Cunego, who has won two stages and taken the maglia rosa, will think about what he has accomplished. Simoni, Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola), and Yaroslav Popovych (Landbouwkrediet) will contemplate what they could win and what they will have to do to win it. Whose dreams will come true? Whose dreams will become nightmares? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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