Spain’s Alberto Contador swept to the top of the Tour of Italy standings after the Saxo Bank rider won the ninth stage on Mount Etna here on Sunday. The three-time Tour de France winner attacked seven kilometers from the finish to come home clear of Venezuelan climber Jose Rujano at the 1892m summit on the south side of the Sicilian volcano. Italian hope Stefano Garzelli won the battle for third, 50-seconds behind, with his compatriot Vincenzo Nibali in fourth.
Contador inherited the race leader’s pink jersey from Rabobank’s Dutch rider Pieter Weening, who had held the lead since last Wednesday’s fifth stage. He has a 59-second cushion over Belarusian Kanstantsin Siutsou, with France’s Christophe Le Mevel third, at 1min 19-second.
Contador, who had started the stage in fifth after finishing second the day before, is aiming for a repeat Giro victory after winning on his only previous appearance in the race in 2008. But this was the first time the 28-year-old had prevailed in an individual stage.
He said: “The wind was gusting up the ascent and I knew I had to attack between eight and five kilometers out. I wasn’t thinking about the pink jersey. The race is only beginning, the Giro is hard and anything can happen. And he reflected: “I dedicate this win above all to my fans, it’s they who have given me the strength to keep going, and also to my family, who have been there for me through the tough times, to my team and my sponsors.”
In Sunday’s 169 kilometer run, a group of nine riders held sway for much of the day, this breakaway group holding a three-minute advantage going into the closing 20km. Belgian’s Jan Bakelants was out on his own 9km from the line, with Contador making his decisive move two kilometers later. Local rider Michele Scarponi tried his hardest to catch Contador but it was ultimately Rujano who got closest, crossing three seconds behind the pre-race favorite. Monday is a rest day.
Giro d’Italia Stage 9
1. Alberto Contador (ESP/SAX) 4:54:08
2. Jos Rujano Guillen (VEN/AND) @ .03
3. Stefano Garzelli (ITA/ASA) @ .50
4. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/LIQ) @ .50
5. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/AST) @ .50
6. David Arroyo (ESP/MOV) @ .50
7. Kanstantsin Siutsou (BLR/HTC) @ .50
8. Igor Anton (ESP/EUS) @ .59
9. John Gadret (FRA/ALM) @ 1:07
10. Hubert Dupont (FRA/ALM) @1:07
Overall Standings After Stage 9
1. Alberto Contador (ESP/SAX) 33:03:51
2. Kanstantsin Siutsou (BLR/HTC) @ 0:59
3. Christophe Le Mvel (FRA/GRM) @ 1:19
4. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/LIQ) @ 1:21
5. Michele Scarponi (ITA/LAM) @ 1:28
6. David Arroyo (ESP/MOV) @ 1:37
7. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/AST) @ 1:41
8. Jos Serpa Perez (COL/AND) @ 1:47
9. Dario Cataldo (ITA/QST) @ 2:21
10. Matteo Carrara (ITA/VAC) @ 2:21