12/05/13 - 11:40
Sansepolcro - Florence
Giro d'Italia • Stage9

Sansepolcro - Florence
Giro d'Italia - 12 May 2013

Giro d'Italia – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 11:40 on 12 May 2013. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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Ryder Hesjedal the big loser of the day - despite all the talk about Wiggins having problems on the descents. The Canadian defending champion drops from 6th to 11th place on GC, 3:11 behind leader Vincenzo Nibali. Sky's Sergio Henao is up to 6th. No change otherwise.


Betancur celebrated as is he had won the stage there - he must not have known about Belkov further up the road...


Top five today: 1. Belkov, 2. Betancur +44, 3. Pantano +46, 4. Ludvigsson +54, 5. Evans +1:03.


Carlos Betancur (Ag2R-La Mondiale) rounds fellow Colombian Jarlinson Pantano to take second place, 45 seconds down. Evans leads the pack over moments later, but Ryder Hesjedal comes home in a small group around one minute seconds back.


Maxim Belkov of Katusha drives right to the end before slapping his thighs and pumping his fists in celebration as he crosses the line to take a superb win.


Under the 'flamme rouge' for Belkov and he still has over a minute on the pack. Hedjedal is 45 seconds down on the pink jersey group.


The crowds roar for Belkov who has this one sewn up now - unless he loses a wheel or comes a cropper on a tight bend.


Euskaltel have moved to the front of the peloton, oddly enough. Belkov still has more than a minute on the chasing duo.


The bunch is still two minutes down and Belkov will win this is he can get up that final ramp to the finish.


There are some big potholes in this road, which would be tricky. One positive is that they're easy to see - being filled with water.


Once again, Wiggins is on the back of the main group for the descent. The rest day couldn't come quicker for the Sky leader.


Carlos Betancur of Ag2R-La Mondiale broke clear of the main pack just ahead of the summit. He's riding solo in pursuit of Pantano and Ludvigsson.


The remnants of the initial break have been caught by the main pack, which crosses the line two minutes down on Belkov, who is now time trialling his way to the finish in Florence.


Pantano crosses the summit in second place with Ludvigsson on his back wheel. The gap is 1:20. No big change for the KOM standings.


Maxim Belkov (Kstusha) crosses the summit of the Fiesole. He should take the win today because the gap is a good one.


We haven't had a time check for a while but Belkov is still out ahead. Italian national champion Franco Pellizzoti has been distanced by the main group.


Pantano is out of the saddle in the dancing position as he tries to close in on Belkov. Back with the main pack, Hesjedal is getting dropped. The defending champion is really feeling the pressure on this climb...


Belkov is onto the final climb of the day, the Cat.4 Fiesole, which has a maximum gradient of 11% but only lasts 2.5km.


On the front of the peloton, it's Estonian national coampion Tanel Kangert setting the pace ahead of his team-mate Vincenzo Nibali, the pink jersey, as they pass under the 15-to-go banner.


Ludvigsson has joined Pantano on the descent as they try and cut the deficit to lone leader Belkov.


Wiggins is in the main pink jersey pack but he's firmly at the back of the 30-strong group. They cross the summit 3:30 down on Belkov. Now time for the descent...


Belkov crosses the summit of the Vetta Le Croci. He has Pantano in pursuit and the Colombian climber has eaten into the lead of the Russian on this climb. But the gap is still a good one: 1:47 for Belkov over Pantano on the summut, with Pirazzi crossing the line in third place at 2:00. Pirazzi will take some points to consolidate his lead in the blue jersey KOM standings.


The likes of Scarponi, Evans, Gesink and Hesjedal are all safely ensconsed in the main pack with Nibali. Wiggins is there, but towards the back as he tries to get his breath back following that long chase back on.


Bradley Wiggins, wearing a bright blue rain jacket, is back with the main group - although he's right at the back. He'll need to get back on front to reassert his authority, because Nibali, in pink, looks comfortable on the front.


Now Pirazzi has a pop from the chasing group, but Petrov moves onto his wheel and it comes back together. It's touch and go now for Belkov, whose lead is tumbling. The main pack is just 4:40 down now.


Jackets are coming off as the rain eases up. Wiggins will like that - although we're not sure whether or not he's back with the main pack. There has not been a time check for a while, so he could have finally rejoined his rivals. Jarlinson Pantano (Colombia) has attacked from the chasing group and rides 2:30 down on Belkov.


The chasing group is about eight-strong now but they have their work cut out to reel in Belkov. Back with the main pack, and David Millar has peeled off the front. It's now Astana, BMC, Movistar and Vini Fantini on the front. They are six minutes down on Belkov.


Belkov has 3:30 over the chasing group but he will be tired after that mammoth descent and pace-setting on the front. The climbs are not his forte and so he'll have to dig deep. But he has time to play with and this stage is his to lose now.


Astana, Garmin, Movistar and BMC are all pulling hard on the front of the main pack what with Wiggins being distanced off the back.


We're onto the Cat.3 Vetta le Croci climb which has a maximum gradient of 12%.


This is really a telling moment of the race: it's the first time we have seen Bradley Wiggins's position undermined at Sky. Both Uran and Henao have been told not to wait for Wiggins, who is still 40 seconds down on the main pink jersey group. Belkov almost has three minutes on the front with those two final climbs coming up.


Now Garmin are coming to the front of the main pack through David Millar. BMC have a man there too. They know that Wiggins is on the ropes - although the gap is down to 30 seconds. But it's looking very good for Maxim Belkov, the lone leader from Katusha, who has 2:40 over the five-man chasing group.


CORRECTION: Uran and Henao are not with Wiggins. A plan B has clearly been implimented, with Sky learning from the mistakes of last week when both Colombians lost time trying to nurse their leader to the line.


Wiggins has five team-mates with him - including the two Colombians Uran and Henao. But they are now 1:15 behind the Astana-led main group. Tanel Kangert is trying to warm up his hands by banging them against his handlebars, while Nibali is chomping at a sandwich.


The chasing group is five-strong and includes the two former leaders Pirazzi and Chalapud, as well as Felline, Golas and Ludvigsson. They trail Belkov by 2:04.


Belkov has two minutes on the chasers and 7:20 on the main pink jersey pack. Wiggins is about 45 seconds further back. The Sky leader will get back but he clearly doesn't like these wet downhills.


Wiggins is one minute behind the main pack.


Bradley Wiggins is suffering on this descent as Astana drive a fast pace. The Briton is off the back and being nursed back by his Sky team-mates.


Belkov has 1:40 on the chasing group with the peloton riding at 6:52.


No confirmation on who the Astana rider who fell was. It wasn't Nibali, that's for sure. Whoever it is, he got back on his bike and on his way fairly quickly.


CRASH: One of the Astana riders comes to grief on the descent on a tight bend. He slides for an eternity over the road before coming to rest against a low wall covered in a pink flag. Ouch.


Belkov has 6:25 on the Astana-led peloton. The Russian is about 35 seconds ahead of Pirazzi and Chalapud, who were caught and passed on the descent.


The descent is wet and foggy. Belkov is still riding out alone and will aim to establish a bit of a gap ahead of the next climbs.


Belkov clearly likes these wet descents: the Russian has caught and passed Pirazzi and Chalapud on the descent.


The peloton come over the summit 6:23 down on the two leaders, Pirazzi and Chalapud.


Confirmation of the points over the top of the Cat.1 Vallombrosa: 1. Pirazzi 15pts, 2. Chalapud 9pts, 3. Belkov 5pts. That puts Pirazzi on 36pts and Chalapud on 23pts in the blue jersey competition. The Italian will take Visconti's blue jersey tonight.


Pirazzi takes the points over the summit of the Cat.1 Vallombrosa but Chalapud returned right to his back wheel towards the end of the climb. Belkov crosses the line a lone figure 47 seconds down, before the remnants of the initial break come over the line about 1:15 down led by Pantano of Colombia.


Poor Belkov has been used as a pawn in this game of grudge chess between Pirazzi and Chalapud. First the Colombian puts in a dig, then Pirazzi jumps out of the saddle to power ahead. Chalapud tries to follow, but can't, while Belkov - who was riding clear of the two after they slowed to a complete standstill as part of their on-going petty dispute - is now well off the back.


Chalapud comes to a complete standstill - a track stand on a sodden mountain climb inside a forest - in this zany duel with Pirazzi. It's because he's seen Belkov returning - and he's keen to wait for the Russian rather than spend more time on his own with the Italian.


Pirazzi has ridden back onto the wheel of Chalapud. These two will have to bury their differences and combine - because the lead is down to four minutes now. Back with the pack, Nibali replaces a gilet with a full black rain jacket.


Chalapud ups the pace from the leading group. And the Colombian drops both Belkov and Pirazzi, who was caught dozing off the back of the breakaway.


Arnold Jeannesson of FDJ has retired from the race. The Frenchman crashed a couple of days ago in the wet. He's the second rider to throw in the towel during today's stage after Tomas Gil Martinez of Androni Giocattoli. Before the start, Francesco Chicchi (Vini Fantini) withdrew.


This climb does not really get going for a bit. After the initial slopes there's a small downhill section before the final rise to the summit.


The entire Astana squad is on the front of the peloton as they pass through Paterno. As mentioned earlier, Nibali is wearing a regular gilet over his pink jersey which makes it very hard to pick him out. It's Paolo Tiralongo on the front as the pack rolls through the feed zone.


We're onto the first Cat.1 climb of the 2013 Giro d'Italia: the Vallombrosa climb has an average gradient of 6% and sections of 10%. It's harder than the opening climb today, but still nothing any of the race favourites should fear.


It's very wet now and the peloton is taking the descent very gingerly. Belkov, Pirazzi and Chalapud have 1:05 over the Visconti chasing group and 5:37 over the peloton.


Belkov is pretting on here: Chalapud has managed to tag on, but Pirazzi has been dropped. But it may be more a clase of him dropping back to speak to his Bardiani team car.


Maxim Belkov (Katusha) has joined the two leaders, Chalapud and Pirazzi. The chasing group is 25 seconds down, many of the riders wearing a gilet for protection from this rain. The peloton is 5:10 back.


I spoke too soon - it looks like the rain has now returned, making the roads fairly wet once again. Astana are on the front setting the pace on the descent, as expected.


It's not wet at the moment and so this descent is not as potentially hazardous as it could be. Pirazzi and Chalapud have 25 seconds over the other escapees. After that spat on the sprint for KOM points, it will be interesting to see how these guys combine here on in.


The peloton are led over the summit by a melange of Astana, Blanco and Sky riders 4:52 down on the two leaders, Pirazzi and Chalapud. It remains to be seen if the duo will sit up and wait for the other escapees or press on themselves.


Jarlinson Pantano attacks from the chasing group to take third over the summit ahead of Gio Visconti. The Colombia man was doing his team-mate Chalapud a favour there to deny the Italian some KOM points. Pirazzi took 9pts, Chalapud 5pts, Pantano 3pts and Visconti 2pts. The live standings now: Pirazzi 21pts, Visconti 16pts, Chalapud 15pts.


Pirazzi and Chalapud keep on attacking each other - and after many attempts to drop his rival, Pirazzi launches the sprint for the KOM points, cuts the final corner and angers Chalapud somewhat, who has to alter his line. He pats Pirazzi on the back side and then the pair exchange a few words after the sprint. The Colombian is not happy - but the Italian clearly didn't intend to box him in then.


Robinson Chalapud attacks from the break. The Colombian is after the mountain points. Unsprurpsingly, Stefano Pirazzi counters to join the Colombia rider. They're both after the mountain points and have opened up a little gap. Visconti, the blue jersey, cannot respond to this.


Wiggins on his rivals: "I doubt Nibali will sit back and try and defend a 30-second lead. He will still ride an aggressive race. Cadel is the best I've seen him since he won the Tour. He's certainly a danger man. I was a bit surprised by Ryder because he's been very aggressive. There's certainly a very long way to go and it's going to be very exciting for the fans."


The 12 leaders now have 4:05 over the peloton as they tackle the gentle hairpin bends of this climb. The road is wide and smooth. Back in the pack, Vincenzo Nibali is only recognisable by his pink short sleaves of his jersey: the race leader is wearing a baby blue Astana gilet.


Bradley Wiggins spoke to Eurosport this morning following his time trial yesterday: "My initial reaction was disappointment because I didn't win the stage. But when we broke down all the numbers we saw that it was a good performance. Let's be honest, I descended like a bit of a girl after Friday's crash. Not to disrespect girls - I have one at home." Nice to see Sir Brad still has his sense of humour - and is in good spirits ahead of the mountains.


The riders are onto the Cat.2 Passo della Consuma. It looks long and big, but the average gradient is only 4% and so this should merely be a leg-stretcher ahead of the race's first Cat.1 peak later in the stage. The gap is 2:48 for the 12 leaders.


The Giro has visited Florence on 30 occasions in its 96-year history. The last time the race passed through the Tuscan capital, Mark Cavendish took the win in 2009. It's safe to say that history won't be repeating itself, what with all those hills on the horizon ahead of the finish.


The gap is up to 3:20 as the leaders approach the first categorised climb of the day. The 12 escapees are: Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole), Alessandro Proni (Vini Fantini), Evgeni Petrov (Saxo-Tinkoff), Tobias Ludvigsson (Argos Shimano), Michal Golas (OPQS), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Ricardo Mestre (Euskaltel), Robinson Chalapud and Jarlison Pantano (both Colombia), Juan Manuel Garate (Blanco) and Fabio Fellini (Androni).


Reports coming in from the finish that it is raining cats and dogs in Florence. To think that this year's Giro started under such delightfully clement weather in Naples little over a week ago.


The 12 escapees are not having it entirely their own way: despite their best efforts, the advantage is still under the three-minute mark as Astana keep tabs on things back in the peloton.


Maxim Belkov (Katusha) takes maximum points at the intermediate sprint at Bibbienda ahead of Fabio Felline (Androni), Gio Visconti (Movistar) and Robinson Chalapud (Colombia). It has no effect on the red points jersey standings, which Mark Cavendish (OPQS) leads with 58 points to Elia Viviani of Cannondale's 52 points.


The average speed for the first hour of racing today was 43.6 km/h.


Astana, the team of race leader Vincenzo Nibali, have come to the front. With their baby blue and yellow outfits and Nibali's pink get-up, it's a sight for sore eyes. The gap is 2:30 for the break.


The gap is up to 2:15 for the break. Spanish veteran climber Juan Manuel Garate of Blanco is the best-placed rider on GC in this break - 5:42 down on pink jersey Vincenzo Nibali.


It's certainly game on for the KOM standings: Visconti (14pts), Pirazzi (12pts) and Chalapud (9pts) are all in this break.


Another ten riders have joined Pirazzi and Chalapud on the front of the race: Proni (Vini Fantini), Petrov (Saxo-Tinkoff), Ludvigsson (Argos Shimano), Golas (OPQS), Visconti (Movistar), Belkov (Katusha), Mestre (Euskaltel), Pantano (Colombia), Garate (Blanco) and Fellini (Androni).


Those escapees stood no chance as Vini Fantini led a big-ring chase. Two riders have counter-attacked - Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani) and Robinson Chalapud (Colombia). Both men have ambitions in the blue jersey mountains competition but they are being granted very little leeway. Very fast start to the stage.


Ermeti didn't last long out in front but now there are seven riders out ahead with a 20 second gap over the peloton: Marcato (Vacansoleil), Keukeleire (GreenEdge), Capecchi (Movistar), Brambilla (OPQS), Quintero (Colombia), Rosa (Androni) and Bongiorno (Bardiani). As Vini Fantini missed the split, they're leading the chase.


There's an early breakaway attempt by Giairo Ermeti of Androni Giocattoli.


The road heads prety much uphill straight away - a taster of things to come. Expect there to be a fierce battle for the blue mountains jersey today: there are more points than in any previous stage up for grabs. At the moment, three Italians top the KOM standings: Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) is in blue with 14 points while Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli) is on 13 and Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole) is on 12, alongside Australian stage seven winner Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol).


They're off! And it's raining in Sansepolcro for this final stage before the first rest day - a rest day which will be sorely needed by many, especially the numerous riders to have suffered falls in the opening week or so.


One non-starter today: Italian sprinter Francesco Chicchi of Vini Fantini. That puts the peloton down to 199 riders from a total of 207 who took to the start in Naples. The riders are in the neutral zone and we're about to get this intriguing stage under way...


Today's stage is a dress rehearsal for the 2013 World Championships Road Race, which follows very similar roads in Tuscany and a near-identical finish in Florence. It's a tricky parcours for the riders ahead of the first rest day on Monday - there's four categorised climbs on the agenda including the race's first Cat.1 ascent, the Vallombrosa. A downhill run to Florence is followed by a steep ramp to the finish. Expect a breakaway but also some fireworkds from the GC favourites.


The weather is cloudy with sun at the moment in Sansepolcro - but some rain is forecast. That could make those two long descents today rather slippery - the kind of conditions that have put a dampener on Wiggins's Giro to date.


Vincenzo Nibali rode the time trial of his life to limit his losses to Bradley Wiggins to just 11 seconds and move into the maglia rosa. The Italian leads Cadel Evans by 29 seconds, Robert Gesink by 1:15 and Wiggins by 1:16. Michele Scarponi completes the top five, 1:24 down, while defending champion Ryder Hesjedal has it all to do in sixth, 2:05 off the pace.


Yesterday, Britain's Alex Dowsett beat compatriot Bradley Wiggins in the 55km individual time trial as Italian Vincenzo Nibali moved into the maglia rosa after stage eight of the Giro d'Italia. We all expected one Briton to top the podium in Saltara but instead were treated to the sight of another as youngster Dowsett of Movistar produced a pulsating ride to beat hot favourite Wiggins by 10 seconds over a demanding course.


Welcome to live coverage of stage nine of the Giro d'Italia - a mountainous 173km ride through the Apennines from Sansepolcro to Florence.