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Benevento - San Giorgio del Sannio
Giro d'Italia - 17 May 2015
Giro d'Italia – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 17:00 on 17 May 2015. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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Yes, one slender second gained for Fabio Aru after that kick at the end. A small victory, perhaps, but every second counts. The Italian is all smiles at the finish line after the victory for his good friend Tiralongo. Geshcke, the new blue jersey, took third place from the group.
Aru jumps out of the saddle and opens up a small gap on the final sprint - and he may have taken a second back off Contador and Porte there. To be confirmed...
Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) takes second place at 21 seconds, with the rest of the break coming over a few seconds later.
Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) competely milks it - and why not? - as he rolls down the finishing straight and takes a memorable victory.
Tiralongo riding to a third Giro win - the last one took a big favour by former team-mate Contador; this one he will do by himself.
Contador and Aru are sharing a few words - a bit of competitive sledging no doubt. Tiralongo knows he's won it - and puts his thumb up to the TV camera...
Kruijswijk catches fellow Dutchman Slagter, who in turn is caught by the other chasers. Tiralongo looks to have this in the bag...
Landa is burying himself for Aru. The Spaniard has been very impressive in this Giro - and he's riding into fourth place tonight. They trail Tiralongo by just 1:10 now and have taken more than a minute on the Uran group.
Tiralongo rides Slagter off his wheel as the road kicks up again. The Dutchman looks to be cooked - and Cannondale-Garmin will have to shift focus to Hesjedal in the chasing group...
There are some discussions between the two leaders. They have about 35 seconds on the chasing group and 1:25 on the Contador quartet. Uran rides with the rest of the peloton at around 2 minutes.
Tiralongo has caught Slagter on the descent. There's one more rise before the finish. They will have to work together if they want to contest the win.
The Aru-Contador-Porte-Landa quartet crest the summit at 1:20 seconds, with the remnants of the main pack coming through 25 seconds later.
Over the top goes Slagter - and he only has about five seconds on Tiralongo, with a trio of Hesjedal, Herrada and Kruijswijk passing at 27 seconds.
That attacked decimated the field - we only have Aru, Landa, Contador and Porte left. Uran did not have the firepower to stay with his rivals. Up in front, Slagter is approaching the summit on the steep 13% segment. This climb is both longer and steeper than it appears in the roadbook and the race stage profiles, that's for sure.
ATTACK: Aru dances clear, taking Landa, Contador and Porte with him. Once again, Aru has another team-mate with him - and remember, they have Tiralongo further ahead. Contador has no one, while Porte has left team-mate Leopold Konig behind.
Roman Kreuziger is setting a fast pace in the main pack - but he's the only Tinkoff-Saxo team-mate Contador has. The gap to Slagter has tumbled down to just two minutes, with the chasing group riding at one minute. Anyone could win today now...
Tiralongo has pulled open a small gap on the other chasers. The Italian veteran is grimacing in pain. His team-mate Fabio Aru still has three Astana riders with him on the front of the pack. Contador and Porte look comfortable, too.
Slagter is on that really steep part of the climb to Montemilleto. Back with the peloton, Katusha move further forward, but it's still Tinkoff-Saxo - through Rogers and Contador - who set the tempo. Slagter has 1:50 over the chasing group but only 3:40 over the peloton.
Tiralongo and Elissonde have been caught by the other chasers. They're onto the downhill drag ahead of the final wall towards the finish.
Kenny Elissonde has attacked the chasing group. The FDJ rider won a stage in the 2013 Vuelta and would love to add a Giro scalp to his palmares. But he's been caught by Paolo Tiralongo of Astana...
Slagter's face is a picture of concentration on this climb. Back with the peloton, Astana still to reveal their hand with Tinkoff-Saxo doing all the work. They are still 5:47 behind and so it looks very, very unlikely that the pack will return on the escapees today.
Onto the Passo Serra goes Slagter shortly after going under the 20-to-go barrier. It starts with a very tight right U-bend and then heads uphill for a maximim gradient of 10%. It's looking good for the Dutchman, who has 1:45 over the nine chasing riders.
Lone leader Tom Jelte Slagter (Cannondale-Garmin) is approaching the Cat.2 Passo Serra (4km at 7%) with 1:28 to play with over the chasing group. The pack still rides at 5:35 despite the fierce tempo being set by Matteo Tossato and Tinkoff-Saxo.
Geschke and Elissonde are there too, so just Belkov who appears to have been dropped by the chasing pack. Tiralongo drives the pace. Ah, the Russian looks like he's almost back on after catching up on this winding descent.
Moinard and Herrada up the tempo, Tiralongo responds, as does Kruijswijk and Heshedal. Betancur is struggling, but gets there, but it looks like Belkov has been distanced.
Tight corners and narrow roads - and Slagter is still ahead, the gap showing no sign of dropping despite the nagging headwind. The climb will be decisive.
Refuelling for Tinkoff-Saxo who exchange energy bars ahead of the next Cat.2 climb before the finish. Up ahead, Slagter almost comes a cropper on a tight right bend. He has 1:30 on the chasing group and 5:45 on the pack.
Tiralongo and Herrada have been pulled back. Hesjedal is speaking into his race radio to Charly Wegelius, his directeur sportive, who is further up the road behind lone leader Slagter. With the numerical advantage in the break, Cannondale-Garmin are the favourites for the win today - and they have the tactical nous to pull it off.
And Tiralongo goes again as the road heads uphill for another small hill. He's joined by Herrada of Movistar and the pair have opened up a small gap. Tiralongo has won two stages in the Giro - can the 37-year-old win a third?
Contador is now back with his Tinkoff-Saxo team-mates on the front of the pack, which trails Slagter by 5:50. Back with the escapees, Tiralongo puts in a sudden dig to provoke a response by the others. It will be interesting to see if Cannondale-Garmin's plan is for Slagter to take the win, or if the young Dutchman is teeing up Hesjedal for later.
Ryder Hesjedal has words with the Katusha car supporting fellow escapee Maxim Belkov. The Canadian clearly feels it strayed too close to him, prompting the 2012 Giro winner to label the driver a "f***ing maniac".
Contador is not riding with the bulk his team-mates at the moment, the pink jersey instead preferring to ride a bit back, tucked in behind the Team Sky train of rival Richie Porte. He has two Tinkoff-Saxo men with him, while the remaining six front the peloton ahead of Fabio Aru's Astana.
The pace is very fast here with numerous zippy descents following these small peaks. The road has been resurfaced and, although cloudy, there's no threat of rain for now. Slagter still has 1:45 over the nine chasing riders, with the peloton another 4:45 back.
It's looking good for Tom Jelte Slagter, who now has six minutes over the peloton. Could we be witnessing Cannondale-Garmin's second stage win of the race, after Davide Formolo's heroics last week?
Cannondale-Garmin's Slagter now has 1:45 over the chasing group, who themselves have 2:45 over the peloton. In the pack, it's Tinkoff-Saxo setting the tempo ahead of Astana and Sky - which has been the natural road order most days until the closing moments, where Astana have come through to the fore (as we saw yesterday).
Rear wheel puncture for Michael Matthews, the stage 3 winner and previous maglia rosa.
Slagter rode clear of the other escapees when picking up those points. The bearded Geschke tried to keep up, but he's now been caught by the break. Dutchman Slagter, however, rides with a small gap. Talking of gaps, it's up to five minutes back to the maglia rosa group.
The gap has opened up to four minutes now as the leaders pass through the intermediate sprint at Lioni, which was won by Slagter. Earlier, Betancur was talking to Tiralongo - perhaps he feels the Italian's presence is why this break cannot get too much leeway.
A race motorbike has crashed into haybales on a tight corner on the descent - and the leaders are urged to slow down on the corner while the debris is bring cleared up. They have 2:50 on the pink jersey group as they continue this long descent. Further back, the peloton is riding behind a neutral red flag because of that incident - they will pass the flash point soon.
Confirmation that Simon Geschke took maximum points atop the Cat.1 Colle Molella which - along with his haul on the previous Cat.2 climb - puts the German rider from Giant Alpecin into the blue jersey. He has 50 points to Benat Intxausti's 39.
We're now onto the descent off the back of the Colle Molella, which came with a hidden extra peak after the official summit of the Cat.1 climb. It's rolling terrain all the way to the finish, with a Cat.2 climb coming 25km from the finish.
Tinkoff-Saxo lead the pack with four riders - including the pink jersey of Contador. They have managed to reel Cataldo back in after his brief foray up the road - a signal of intent from Astana or a failed coup?
Colbrelli - who is celebrating his 25th birthday today - has been caught by the peloton now after his time in the break. He waves at the camera and soon he may be tailed off like a whole host of riders, including the red jersey Elia Viviani.
Belkov has managed to rejoin the leaders, so we have 10 men in the lead. They have 2:45 on the peloton. And Astana has sent yet another man up the road - Dario Cataldo. That means Astana have Tiralongo in the main break and Cataldo riding between - and the latter is only 30 seconds down on GC so is a clear danger man.
Paulinho appears to have been caught by the peloton on the Colle Molella so he never did catch Colbrelli and Belkov, as was initially reported through race radio. Live TV images are about to start and so things will become a bit clearer very soon.
Apparently an extra nine kilometres were added to this stage in a late adjustment to the route, meaning it's 224km long and not the original 215km. Perhaps a detour to avoid Tony Soprano country near Avellino?
No rider from Androni-Sidermec in this break - for the first time since the start of the race in San Remo. Belkov has been dropped by the leaders too, and he now rides with Paulinho and Colbrelli. A reminder of the nine leaders: Carlos Betancur (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Paolo Tiralongo (Astana), Amael Moinard (BMC), Kenny Elissonde (FDJ), Jesus Herrada (Movistar), Ryder Hesjedal and Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale-Garmin), Simon Geschke (Giant Alpecin) and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo).
Sonny Colbrelli has been dropped by the leading group and so we have just 10 riders out ahead. Paulinho is closing in, but the time gaps are coming down - the peloton is just over four minutes back.
The leaders are nearing the top of the Cat.1 Colle Molella with a five-minute lead over lone chaser Paulinho, who himself has almost a minute on the pack.
Interestingly, Sergio Paulinho has attacked off the front of the peloton. The Portugese vetenan perhaps paving the way for later - it may mean that Tinkoff-Saxo don't have to chase down this break.
The 11 leaders are on the descent ahead of the next climb, the Cat.1 Colle Mollela. They have 5:50 over the peloton.
Confirmation of the points over the top of Monte Terminio: Geschke crossed first to take 15 points ahead of Betancur (8) and Tiralongo (6). Now Kruijswijk is up to 19 points in the battle for the blue jersey after he picked up 4 points for fourth place.
CORRECTION: What I just said about Kruijswick being in the blue jersey was utter balderdash, by the way. The Dutchman did scale the Cat.2 climb in pole position yesterday, but he faded on the final ascent and - of course - maximum points there went to the stage winner, Benat Intxausti. So it's the Movistar rider who is in the blue jersey with a haul of 39 points followed by Mikel Landa (Astana) on 19 points his second-place finish. Kruijswijk is only third, on 15 points.
Remember, Kruijswick is in the blue mountains jersey after scaling yesterday's first Cat.2 peak in pole position. No news yet on whether or not it was the Dutchman who crested the summit of the Termino in first place - but you'd think that would have been his objective. The gap expands to five minutes, putting Moinard in the virtual maglia rosa.
The leading group are approaching the summit of the Cat.2 Monte Termino with a lead of around 4:30 over the pack, which is being controlled by the Tinkoff-Saxo team-mates of the race leader, Contador. After two hours in the saddle the average pace has been a fast 41.6kmh.
The 'lanterne rouge' of the race - Japan's Manabu Ishibashi of Nippo-Vini Fantini - has withdrawn from the race. That means Matteo Pelucchi of IAM Cycling is now the last placed rider. The Italian is 2h15.39 down in 188th place.
Frenchman Amael Moinard (BMC) is the best placed rider in the break, currently 4:45 down on Alberto Contador - putting him almost in the virtual maglia rosa. Interesting to see both Betancur and Kruijswijk in the break, too - both riders were part of the break that animated yesterday's stage, before being reeled in on the final climb.
That brings us up to date. Now we just need to reveal who the eleven breakaway riders are: Carlos Betancur (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Paolo Tiralongo (Astana), Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF), Amael Moinard (BMC), Kenny Elissonde (FDJ), Jesus Herrada (Movistar), Ryder Hesjedal and Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale-Garmin), Simon Geschke (Giant Alpecin), Maxim Belkov (Katusha) and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo).
French veteran Sylvain Chavanel and former Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal were two of many riders who tried their luck at breaking clear as the peloton split in two once again, with yesterday's winner Benat Intxausti and the red jersey of Elia Viviani among those tailed off. The break then formed on the climb to Grottella with around 155km remining.
It was a frantic opening to today's stage with a sudden climb and zippy descent leading to a split in the peloton with around 50 riders in the leading group. Contador found himself in the second group, but the gaps were minimal as Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) had another pop at breaking clear - much like he did yesterday. After 25km the race was back together.
A reminder that Contador leads the overall standings by four seconds over Italy's Fabio Aru (Astana) and 22 seconds over Australia's Richie Porte (Team Sky). Two more Astana riders - Dario Cataldo and Mikel Landa - complete the top five. Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep) stuck with the GC favourites and is still in 8th place at 1:24. Fellow Colombian Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) struggled on the final climb and dropped well out of the top ten. He's now more than seven minutes down.
We pick up the race live at the 90km mark with a group of 11 riders holding an advantage of 4:15 over the peloton after breaking away only at the 58km mark. We'll now run you though what happened at the start of the stage before taking you into the finale with regular live updates from the road...
No overnight withdrawals as the remaining 189 riders took to the start today in Benevento. It's a sunny day in central Italy with no need for the rain jackets, leg and arm warmers that we witnessed yesterday - and which Contador grappled with to get into, given his recovering shoulder...
There may not be a summit finish today, but with over 4,000 metres of total vertical elevation on the cards, it's quite a test so expect some fireworks as Alberto Contador's rivals look to pile on the pressure on the Spaniard ahead of the rest day. That said, the route is also tailor made for a breakaway so we're in for quite a feisty afternoon with two races to suck our teeth into.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of stage nine of the Giro d'Italia - a 215km undulating ride from Benevento to San Giorgio del Sannio that features a series of peaks and three categorised climbs. A stern test for the riders ahead of Monday's much needed first rest day...