Francisco Ventoso of Movistar won Stage 9 of the Giro d'Italia in Frosinone this afternoon as a crash on a hairpin bend inside the final kilometre took out points classification leader Matt Goss of GreenEdge-Orica, hit from behind by Farnese Vini's Pippo Pozzato as he swung wide to take the corner at speed. World champion Mark Cavendish was unable to avoid the tangle of bikes and himself came off. Fabio Felline of Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela crossed the line second, with Giacomo Nizzolo of RadioShack-Nissan in third place, while maglia rosa Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin-Barracuda kept out of trouble in the finale and retains the race lead.
Today's finish was the second time in this year's race that a crash inside the closing few hundred metres has cost Cavendish the chance to compete for a sprint finish, but unlike last Monday's Stage 3 in Horsens when he suffered severe bruising and road rash, he appeared to have come through the latest chute, which happened when his bike was almost at a standstill, unscathed. His former HTC-Highroad team mate Goss, however, came down more heavily and is bound to feel some after-effects.
Robbie Hunter checks on Matt Goss (Daniele Badolato - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
The crash robbed the crowd watching the finish of what is shaping up to be a great rivalry between the former collegues who finished first and second in last September's world championship road race in Copenhagen where Cavendish prevailed to win the rainbow jersey.
The Team Sky rider took the first sprint of this year's race on Stage 2 ahead of Goss, and it was the same one-two in Fano on last Thursday's Stage 5. Had Androni rider Roberto Ferrari not taken out Cavendish in the Stage 3 finale, it's likely Manxman would have run stage winner Goss close there, and today's stage, the fourth sprint finish of the race, was also shaping up to be a battle between the pair until that final corner.
Instead, it was Movistar's Ventoso who got to celebrate the second Giro stage win of his career - the 30-year-old Spaniard's previous victory, coincidentally, coming in Fiuggi just 20 kilometres away from today's finish in the hills southeast of Rome.
Mountains were for backdrop today, not climbing (Daniele Badolato - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
Ahead of that frantic finale, inside the final 10 kilometres as the race headed up the last of the day’s climbs, much shorter and gentle than those seen in recent days, several riders had tried to get clear of the peloton in an attempt to try and avoid the seemingly inevitable sprint finish.
The most dangerous of those was Katusha’s Joaquin Rodriguez, but the stronger climbers in the peloton were quick to react to the Spaniard’s threat and he was brought back as the race headed under the 5km to go banner.
There was still another uphill section to negotiate before the road headed downhill for the a flat last two kilometres, with Adam Hansen of Lotto-Belisol trying his luck on the descent, but he too was swept up as the race approached the flamme rouge, with Goss and Cavendish seemingly set to contest the win until that final bend, when several riders at the front of the race slowed as they swung wide, with the apparent exception of Pozzato.
Some 24 kilometres from the end of the stage, Cavendish had led the peloton over the day’s intermediate sprint ahead of Vacansoleil-DCMs’ Thomas De Gendt, and as the second rider across the line the world champion more than halved Goss's lead in the points classification from ten points to four.
Cav nearer red jersey but ultimately frustrated (Daniele Badolato - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
Maximum points at that intermediate sprint had been taken by Vacansoleil-DCM’s Martijn Keizer, the last of the day’s three escapees to manage to stay clear of the peloton, the Dutchman finally being caught 17km out by the peloton led by Garmin-Barracuda as it looked to keep maglia rosa Hesjedal out of trouble.
The three-man break of which Keizer was the final survivor had got away 20km after the start of today’s short 165km stage in San Giorgio del Sannio to the east of Naples, the other two being Euskaltel’s Pierre Cazaux and Brian Bulgac of Lotto-Belisol.
Three-man break (Daniele Badolato - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
Poppies and the peloton (Daniele Badolato - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
Earlier on in the stage, ridden in much cooler weather than the riders have experienced in recent days with dark clouds posing an ever-present threat of rain that failed to materialise, Hesjedal, the first Canadian to wear the maglia rosa, and team mate Jack Bauer narrowly escaped being involved in what would have been a bizarre accident.
Giro leader Ryder Hesjedal (Daniele Badolato - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
Hesjedal was passing the domestique his long-sleeved maglia rosa when the sleeve managed to lodge itself in Bauer’s rear brake; a couple of centimetres lower, and it could have been the spokes instead, which could have had serious consequences for both riders and the New Zealander in particular.
Bauer shakes the maglia rosa off his wheel (Daniele Badolato - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
Tomorrow sees a medium mountain Stage 10 from Civitavecchia to Assisi, with a couple of short but tough ascents inside the closing kilometres that could well see a finale contested by some of the more explosive climbers in the race.
Celebrating the Giro coming through (Daniele Badolato - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
Others have eyes on Hesjedal's jersey... (Daniele Badolato - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
Giro d’Italia Stage 9 result 1 VENTOSO Francisco MOV 3:39:20 2 FELLINE Fabio AND all at same time 3 NIZZOLO Giacomo RNT 4 CARUSO Damiano LIQ 5 SCHORN Daniel APP 6 KRISTOFF Alexander KAT 7 HESJEDAL Ryder GRM 8 BRANDLE Matthias APP 9 BELLETTI Manuel ALM 10 IMPEY Daryl OGE 11 BRAMBILLA Gianluca COG 12 VISCONTI Giovanni MOV 13 CATALDO Dario OPQ 14 IZAGUIRRE Jon EUS 15 SOUPE Geoffrey FDJ 16 GASPAROTTO Enrico AST 17 DE GREEF Francis LTB 18 LAGUTIN Sergey VCD 19 AGNOLI Valerio LIQ 20 TIRALONGO Paolo AST Overall Standings after Stage 9 1 HESJEDAL Ryder GRM 36:02:40 2 RODRIGUEZ Joaquin KAT at 9 secs 3 TIRALONGO Paolo AST 15 4 KREUZIGER Roman AST 35 5 INTXAUSTI Benat MOV 35 6 BASSO Ivan LIQ 40 7 CARUSO Damiano LIQ 45 8 CATALDO Dario OPQ 46 9 SCHLECK Frank RNT 48 10 CAPECCHI Eros LIQ 52
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.