Weening Wins Stage 9 of Giro
Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) has scored his team’s third stage win of the 2014 Giro d’Italia. The Dutchman took a two-up sprint at the end of a daylong escape to snare the hilly, 172-km ride from Lugo to Sestola in 4:25:51. Davide Malacarne (Europcar) settled for second, and Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) grabbed third with a late attack. Cadel Evans (BMC) remains the maglia rosa.
The first week of the Giro has ended in sunshine, which is what greeted the riders in Lugo. Sky led the field at a fast pace, which discouraged early breaks. At about 50 km, 14 riders sallied off of the front. They were Julien Berard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Enrico Barbin (Bardiani-CSF), Marco Bandiera and Jackson Rodriguez (both from Androni Giocatolli-Venezuela), David Tanner (Belkin), Oscar Gatto (Cannondale), Leonardo Duque (Colombia), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Yonathan Monsalve (Neri Sottoli-Yellow Fluo), Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Belisol), Salvatore Puccio (Sky), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Weening, and Malacarne. The gaggle led the field by 4:30 at 72 km, and its lead maxed out at more than eight minutes.
When the peloton reached the Category 3 Sant’Antonio, the escapees’ advantage was more than six minutes. Garmin-Sharp went to the front and accelerated. Movistar and Lampre-Merida followed suit, which prompted BMC to take go to the front and take control of the situation.
On the descent of the Sant’Antonio, the Swiss squad accelerated to head off further attacks. At this point, the break led the bunch by about 4:45. Garmin-Sharp joined BMC at the front, and the combustion dropped riders from the peloton and narrowed the gap to 3:36 on the Category 4 Rocchetta Sandri. With 19 km left and knowing that the bunch was closing, Weening attacked on a roundabout.
Malacarne joined the Dutchman and the pair collaborated well on the Category 2 climb to the finish. Behind, Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) crashed with 10 km remaining and slowly remounted.
With less than five km remaining, Pozzovivo attacked to gain time on his GC rivals. The BMC-led peloton chased, which further narrowed the gap between bunch and break. Pozzovivo caught Barbin, and the two collaborated until the Ag2r-La Mondiale man dropped Barbin in the last two km.
Ahead, Weening and Malacarne were aware that they had time to play cat and mouse in the last km. With 250 m remaining, the Italian bolted for the finish line, but the Dutchman came around him for the win. Stage 8 winner Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) led the maglia rosa group across the finish line at 1:08.
According to Weening, the stage was ideal for riders like him who were stage hunting. “Today was the first opportunity for guys like me and [Ivan] Santa[morita] to go into the break,” Weening said. “Days like this, the break can stay away if there is no one on the general classification. I think the closest guy was at nine minutes, so we knew we had a chance to go to the finish line. I was in a good group and one of the strongest guys uphill. For me, it was perfect.”
"We have to be satisfied with our work so far," race leader Evans told RoadCycling.com. "I am very very happy with the team. They are the ones who have put me in the position to be here now and they rode with the jersey very strongly in control. I think the guys will rest very happily tomorrow."
In the overall, Evans leads Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) by 0:57 and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) by 1:10. Tomorrow will be the Giro’s second rest day, and riders will lick their wounds and rest while directeurs sportifs plot strategy for Tuesday and the week beyond it. Stage 9 will be a flat, 169-km run from Modena to Salsomaggiore Terme. This stage will not change the GC, and a sprinter should win it. Who will win? Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr)? Elia Viviani (Cannondale)? Luka Mezgec (Giant-Shimano)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!