Thanks for following the live coverage of stage nine - be sure to return tomorrow for what should be an intriguing ride to Assisi.
San Giorgio del Sannio - Frosinone
Giro d'Italia - 14 May 2012
Giro d'Italia – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 19:20 on 14 May 2012. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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No change in the GC as Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin) holds on to the maglia rosa. The Canadian leads Joaquim Rodriguez by nine seconds.
Confirmation that Francesco Ventoso (Movistar) took the win ahead of Fabio Felline (Androni) and Giocomo Nizzolo (RadioShack).
So both Goss and Cavendish went down on the final tight bend. Goss was the instigator of the fall and came off badly. Cav was just caught up in it. But it allowed Ventoso to take the win.
Ventoso takes the win for Movistar!
CRASH ON THE FINAL CORNER! Cavendish is one of the riders down! So is Goss!
Cavendish is there, lurking a bit back.
Goss has two team-mates. They catch Hansen. Surely it's Goss's to lose. Pozzato is there too.
Goss is up towards the front - and no sign of Cavendish.
It's Aussie Adam Hansen who has the gap. It's getting very hectic back in the bunch.
Lotto again off the front!
Fabio Felline leads the descent for Androni. He's caught and it's back together, although we don't know which sprinters are still in the reckoning.
They're over the top of the climb and on the downhill drag to the finish. But it looks to be a little slippery, so the riders are proceeding with caution.
Rodriguez only has 30 metres on the bunch so he will be caught - and perhaps passed.
Now Rodriguez breaks clear alone. Everyone thought he'd wait until tomorrow to make his move. Liquigas and Colnago lead the chase back in the pack.
Two Katusha riders join the two escapees - including Rodriguez! Smart move from the Spaniard - he's only 9 seconds down in the GC.
Lotto Belisol attack once again, taking Colnago along for the ride. No names as yet, but Rabottini is caught and passed. The peloton is exploding as the road heads up hill.
Attack by a Farnese-Vini rider, who carves out a small lead. It's Matteo Rabottini. But he's caught fast.
Ramunas Navardauskas leads the chase for Garmin, as Vanendert is swept up.
Another Lotto Belisol attack: Dennis Vanendert jumps clear of the peloton. He's the brother of Tour stage winner Jelle.
Visconti has two team-mates with him, but they're still not back on to the back of the bunch yet.
Farnese-Vini are coming forward now, as are Lampre. Garmin and the pink jersey of Ryder Hesjedal are on the front too.
Movistar's Giovanni Visconti has a mechanical problem and needs assistance. The Italian will struggle to get back on the front of the bunch now.
Mark Cavendish's girlfriend Peta is at the finish today, with their daughter Delilah. Will the world champion have enough puff to get over these final hills and contest the sprint?
Keizer has hit the wall and is about to be swept up by the peloton, which is now being led by Garmin-Barracuda.
Liquigas and Lampre have moved forward now, clearly keen to keep their men out of any potential traps. Keizer is 25 seconds ahead as be passes under the 20km-to-go banner.
The crowds cheer Keizer as he zips through Ceprano to take the first intermediate sprint. The peloton is led over the line by Mark Cavendish, who pips Thomas de Gendt for the points in the red jersey competition. De Gendt's team-mate Keizer still has 38 seconds over the bunch.
Keizer still holds 49 seconds over the peloton, who have caught Bulgac and Cazaux. Today's finish may well suit the Dutchman's Vacansoleil team-mate Thomas de Gendt too.
Keizer goes for it alone as he drops his two fellow escapees, who will soon be swept up by the bunch.
Just 45 seconds now for the trio. It's Cazaux setting the pace but all three will know their days are numbered.
The clouds at the finish look very ominous. Remember, there's a big bend 300m from the finish, and if the road is wet, that will be treacherous. The gap is 1:09 now.
Brian Bulgac was involved in the breakaway in stage five last week, the Dutchman being caught with 20km left to ride. Will he last longer today? Probably not. By my reckoning, they'll be caught with 29km to go.
The sun's out now for the three leaders, who must feel pretty demotivated. They have 2:00 on the bunch, and their move is surely doomed to fail.
World champion Mark Cavendish looks pretty angry. He seems to be involved in some gesticulating with some of his colleagues in the peloton, plus it clearly doesn't help that the TV cameras are fixed firmly on his face. Will his grimace turn to a smile later on today?
RadioShack's Frank Schleck smiles at the camera as he devours a sandwich. The peloton is 2:35 down on the three leaders Cazaux, Keizer and Bulgac.
It's still Sky, FDJ and GreenEdge doing the work in the peloton, with the team of pink jersey Ryder Hesjedal content to take a day off and slink a bit back in the bunch. Tomorrow's hilly ride to Assisi will be more of a test for Garmin, with Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez hotly fancied for the punchy uphill finish.
Rear flat tyre for yesterday's winner, Domenico Pozzovivo. Colnago leave two riders behind to help the diminutive climber back into the peloton. The lead continues to drop: 2:45 now as they pass underneath a rather bleak-looking mountain-top monastry or basilica. Ah, the Giro graphic tells me it's Montecassino Abbazia.
Feeding zone for the peloton as they pass through the town of San Caltaldo. The gap is 3:22.
Pink peril for Jack Bauer, who is helping Ryder Hesjedal take off his long sleeved pink rain jersey when one of the arms gets caught in his spokes. He'll have to stop and untangle himself.
Jeremy Hunt has hit the front for Team Sky, who have a cluster of riders amongst the white bodies of FDJ. It's odd that FDJ are leading the chase - they don't have a main sprinter and it makes no sense for them to do the hard work when the likelihood of any returns is pretty small. The lead is down to 3:35.
The lead is still just a few seconds shy of four minutes as the peloton passes by a nice hilltop town. The escapees are on another sweeping uphill stretch of road before it curves downhill and into a mountain-lined valley.
The race is now LIVE on British Eurosport with David Harman and Sean Kelly on the mic.
Orica GreenEdge are moving forward to help out FDJ on the front of the pack. The Aussies will hope to launch Matt Goss to the finish line today. The escapees near four minutes again.
The roads are very undulating and straight, with long upward and downhill arcs rolling right into the horizon. It's probably rather leg-sapping for the three leaders, who have 3:48 over the bunch.
FDJ fancy working for their man Geoffrey Soupe today. He was third in stage two last week. They also have Arnaud Demare, although he may not make it over the final hill in contact with the peloton.
Movistar are quite present on the front at the moment. They don't really have a GC man, although yesterday's second place rider, Benat Intxausti, could be a dark horse for the top ten come Milan. They also have Francisco Ventoso, whose skills suit today's finish quite nicely. NetApp and FDJ are also in the mix.
The gap is still hovering above the three-minute mark as Liquigas come to the front alongside Lampre for a spot of pace-setting. No worry from the peloton at the moment. The rain has stopped but it's still a bit cloudy.
One of just two Frenchmen (and foreigners, full stop) at Basque team Euskaltel, 27-year-old Pierre Cazaux joined the Boys in Orange in 2010 from FDJ. He has no pro wins to his name. The final rider in this trio, Dutchman Brian Bulgac is 24 and joined Lotto in 2011. Bulgac knows fellow escapee Keizen from their time together on the Rabobank Continental development squad.
Dutchman Martijn Keizer is 24 years old and joined Vacansoleil-DCM last year after three years in Rabobank's youth squad. He has a couple of minor wins to his name, and this is the second time he's broken away in the Giro this year after an early break in Denmark.
The gap's 3:30 and in a flash we'll take a closer look at today's three escapees.
We don't have an intermediate sprint until 24km from the finish today, which is a little odd. The skies are still rather grey, but it is expected to improve before the finish. This will be the fourth time a Giro stage finishes in Frosinone after previous visits in 1975, 1985 and 2005, when Italian Paolo Bettini won the sprint but was demoted to last place after doing a Ferrari-style swerve on the closing straight.
The lead has dropped just below four minutes for the three leaders. The average speed for the first hour of racing today was 47.8 km/h.
So, who do you think will win today's stage? What about your tip for the GC come Milan? Have your say below - and post your reasons. We'll publish the best comments.
The break now has 4:10 over the peloton. Of the three riders, Martijn Keizer is the best placed in the GC, 1:04:56 down on Hesjedal.
Reports coming in from out own David Harmon say that there's a huge grey raincloud handing above the finish in Frosinone...
There's a break: three riders have broken clear of the peloton. They are Pierre Cazaux (Euskaltel), Brian Bulgac (Lotto Belisol) and Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil-DCM). They have three and a half minutes over the pack.
Despite a late call up, Frank Schleck is riding into some form in the Giro. The Luxembourg rider is just 48 seconds down in the GC in ninth place. "When the long climbs come, we'll see where we are. I want to stay modest and see how far we can come," Schleck told Eurosport. "I do miss him (Andy) because we're stronger together. We Skype in the morning and after the stage."
Australia's Matt Goss is still in the red jersey, with Britain's Mark Cavendish lurking just 10 points behind. Today could see the former HTC team-mates renew their duel, with Cav currently 2-1 up in the stage count. But a series of punchy small climbs in the final 10km - including one with a 6% gradient over 1.2km - is enough to make the sprinters wobble.
It should be a very quick start today: the first hour of racing takes place on a main road which is straight and downhill. Plus there's a favourable tail wind for the peloton. Breaking away will be difficult.
Yesterday, Italian pocket rocket Domenico Pozzovivo took a solo victory on stage eight in the 229km stage from Sulmona to Lago Lacano after attacking on the final 2nd category climb of Colle Molella. Spain's Benat Intxausti took second, with Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez leading in a 20-strong group for third.
The GC is shaping up quite nicely, with all of the major favourites nestling in the top 15 with intent. Canada's Ryder Hesjedal retains the pink jersey by nine seconds over Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain. Roman Kreuziger is fourth, at 35 seconds, Ivan Basso sixth at 40, Frank Schleck ninth at 48, Rigoberto Uran 11th at 53, Michele Scarponi 12th at 54 and Damiano Cunego 15th at 1:14.
They're off! The remaining 191 riders get this stage under way. Rabobank's Dennis Van Winden, who crashed in the opening week, did not finish yesterday's stage, while RadioShack's Daniele Bennati pulled out of the race before Sunday's stage.
It's another sunny-ish day in Italy, with the sun peaking out from the clouds and temperatures in the high teens. There was some drizzle at the start, however, and clouds lurking in Frosinone...
After a weekend of moderate hills, today sees the peloton return to the flatlands. That said, a bunch sprint is not a formality: a tricky climb towards the end of the stage could see the pack split - or it could encourage an early break today, a break which could hold on until the finale. Team Sky and GreenEdge will have different plans, however, hoping to set things up for Messrs Cavendish and Goss to renew their rivalry.
Welcome to live coverage of stage nine of the Giro d'Italia,a slightly lumpy but generally pleasant 166km ride from San Giorgio del Sannio to Frosinone.