After Saturday and Sunday’s skirmishes today is a “rolling rest day” – only 127 kilometres from Francavilla Al Mare to Termoli, a nice little jaunt down the Adriatic coast to have a look at the beaches under a hot sun, another “Robbie day?”
Early on two riders went away, Yuriy Krivtsov of Ag2r and Francais de Jeux’s Cyrille Monnerais, their gap hovered around the 4 minute mark with Quick-Step doing the chasing for Bettini who yet again wants to do something today – yesterday he did quite a lot in reverse and lost more time, nearly seven minutes.
Ivan Basso enjoyed the fruits of yesterday’s labors with an easy day in Pink on Monday.
All the stars are in the main peloton and looking cool and relaxed, even BIG Jan Ullrich has had a turn near the front, this training/racing thing seems to be working for him as he looks in fairly good condition, he may show some form at the 50 kilometre time trial on Thursday.
There is a little climb today at Palata (520 meters) and when they start climbing Yuriv Krivtsov rides away from Monnerais, he has 40 kilometres to the finish and it looks as though he will be caught before then, but you never know, he might be lucky! Rumours have it that McEwen will be going home soon, so it’s very likely he will want to make this his fourth stage win.
Scott Davis put in a meritorious dig late in the race today, but had no chance against a field that smelled bunch sprint.
Krivtsov is caught with just under 30 kilometres to Termoli, Quick-Step are still on the front with CSC keeping a close watch for Basso in his pink jersey, over the 3rd cat climb and Garate is setting the pace as McEwen is dropped, but gets back on after his teammate (and honorary PEZ-Man) Bert Roesems takes some long pulls.
On another small climb only 15k from the finish some big time fireworks were lit and attacks fired off left, right, and center. A small break got away, from which Scott Davis (T-Mobile) countered, whilst behind Franco Pellizotti put in a monster effort to go across and up to Davis. The move did not succeed, but it is always nice to see some aggressive riding in the closing stages of a day that looks to be headed to a field sprint.
In the closest sprint by far this year, it was 24-year-old Lithuanian, Tomas Vaitkus, taking it from Il Grillo by a tire width.
It’s all together with 5 kilometres to go, Jan Ullrich is doing a bit of work for team mate Pollack, McEwen is getting his breath back as Matt White (Discovery), Pauriol (Credit Agricole) and Kolobnev (Rabobank) try their luck off the front, Milram and Lampre pull them back and there are many riders spread across the line, Bettini thinks he’s got it in a photo finish with him Pollack and Tomas Vaitkus (Ag2r). The judges give it to the Lithuanian and McEwen was only fourth. No change with the overall, but there were a few tired legs today!
Tomas Vaitkus (AG2R): “I don’t have words…I can’t believe it! This is my biggest victory…and I still can’t believe it!.”
Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step): “Today I wanted to try to win the stage, but couldn’t do it! When Vaitkus sprinted I caught his wheel, and followed him. Then, I wanted to pass him on left side, but with his experience, moved to the left side to block me and made me lose some speed. Believe me, my condition is still good, and tomorrow I will try again.”
Ivan Basso (CSC): “As I’ve already said, this Giro will be tough in every stage, everyday. So it was today, although it looked easy on the map, it was hard.”
Luca Mazzanti (Panaria): “I wasn’t the leader of my team, but anyway, even though I’m now ahead of my captain [Emmanuele] Sella, that doesn’t mean that he’s gonna work for me. It’s still a tough Giro, and it’s better to have 2 in the overall ranking than just 1 man, isn’t it?”
Gianpaolo Caruso (Liberty): “Yesterday I surprised myself, although I know I trained well in the last months. But, I’m a bit upset because when Basso attacked, I wanted to follow him but I was scared, and it blocked me. That’s my only regret. Anyway, there’s still a long way to go, and also Scarponi can come back in the ranking, maybe trying an escape in the hills.”
Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel): “I think I found the reason for my bad performance in yesterday’s stage; I guess I’ve suffered from an allergy, as you can’t lose your condition from one day to another one.”
Giro06 Stage 9 Result:
1st Tomas Vaitkus (Ag2r) in 3.05.13
2nd Paolo Bettini (Quick Step-Innergetic) all same
3rd Olaf Pollack (T-Mobile Team)
4th Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto)
5th Philippe Gilbert (Franзaise des Jeux)
6th Alexandre Botcharov (Credit Agricole)
7th Manuele Mori (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
8th Axel Maximiliano Richeze (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare)
9th Leonardo Duque (Cofidis)
10th Alessandro Spezialetti (Liquigas)
Giro Overall after stage 9:
1st Ivan Basso (Team CSC) in 34.46.30
2nd Josй E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Phonak) at 1.34
3rd Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) at 1.48
4th Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel) at 2.35
5th Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile Team)at 2.43
6th Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) at 2.48
7th Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval-Prodir) at 3.20
8th Giampaolo Caruso (Liberty Seguros) at 3.23
9th Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel) at 3.31
10th Josй Luis Rubiera (Discovery Channel) at 3.39