Contador erupts on Etna
Rivals in pieces on volcanic climb
Last Updated: May 15, 2011 5:19pm
Contador: Attacked for the second day in succession
Alberto Contador powered to a stunning victory on stage nine of the Giro d'Italia, and took control of the pink jersey in the process.
The Saxo Bank-Sungard rider produced a stinging attack with seven kilometres remaining as the peloton split to pieces on the final ascent up Mount Etna.
The acceleration saw Contador comfortably distance his Maglia Rosa rivals Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) and Roman Kreuziger (Astana) to the tune of 50 seconds on the summit finish.
The only man able to say in the wheel of the Spaniard was Venezuelan climber Jose Rujano (Androni-Giocattoli), who came home in second place just three seconds later.
The victory moved Contador into a 59-second lead over Kanstantsin Sivtsov (HTC-Highroad) going into the first rest day after the ascent proved too hot to handle for overnight leader Pieter Weening (Rabobank) - who lost over six minutes on the day.
It took a while for things to shake out in the early going, with a definitive nine-man break only riding clear after the 50km mark.
The move, including seventh-placed Pablo Lastras (Movistar), did not look likely to be given too much freedom and built up a gap of just over five minutes before the peloton set to work.
With Rabobank seemingly resigned to losing the pink jersey held by Weening, the Dutch squad opted not to control the pace at the front of the bunch, allowing the break to hold firm.
At the foot of the first passage of Etna, Maxim Belkov (Vacansoleil) jumped clear in an ill-fated bid to bridge along to the escapees.
With 15km to go the breakaway began to attack each other, leaving just three men - Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini), Jan Bakelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Mathias Frank (BMC) - on the final climb.
With 9km remaining, Bakelandts decided to go on his own, yet was soon passed by a flying Rujano, and then Contador, as the escapees filtered back into the bunch.
Scarponi tried to remain with his rivals but a second big acceleration from Contafor broke the Italian, resigning him to 12th place.