- Giro d'Italia, Stage Nine
Wiggins recovers to keep in touch
Sir Bradley Wiggins had to consolidate in the treacherous conditions of the Giro d'Italia stage nine 170-kilometre climb from Sansepolcroto to Florence, finishing over a minute behind winner Maxim Belkov of Katusha.
Former Tour de France champion Cadel Evans led the chasing peloton over the finish line, with Team Sky rider Wiggins tucked safely inside along with Vincenzo Nibali, who did enough to keep hold of the pink jersey.
Wiggins recovered after four difficult climbs to post the same time as Nibali, and remains 1:16 behind the leader.
The stage comprised of four tough ascends; first the category two Passo della Consuma, then the category one Vallombosa before category three and four climbs ahead of the flat finish in Florence.
With bleak conditions testing the riders to the extreme, Stefano Pirazzi and the Columbian Robsinson Chalapud exchanged the early lead in a game of cat and mouse. Belkov took advantage of the hesitating front two to lead as Team Sky and Wiggins struggled in the early climbs due to poor weather.
Belkov extended his lead to just over six minutes ahead of the chasing peloton, before Wiggins and Team Sky lost touch with overall leader Nibali following a tough descent midway through the stage.
As the rain began to ease Wiggins worked his way back into the race and caught the peloton, recovering a 60 second gap to the Astana team and Nibali.
Belkov, meanwhile, was relishing the wet conditions but defending champion Ryder Hesjedal was another big name to struggle with the slippery surfaces.
Wiggins held on as the stage flattened out towards the finish in the streets of Florence, but it was Belkov who dominated, finishing 44 seconds ahead of Carlos Betancur, Jarlinson Pantano, and Tobias Ludvigsson.
Stage nine, Sansepolcro - Firenze 170km
1. Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha 4:31:31"
2. Carlos Betancur (Col) AG2R +:44"
3. Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia +:46"
4. Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Argos-Shimano +:54"
5. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing +1:03"
6. Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar +1:03"
7. Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Vini Fantini +1:03"
8. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini +1:03"
9. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale +1:03"
10. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana +1:03"
General classification after stage nine
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana 34:19:31
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing +:29"
3. Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco +1:15"
4. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky +1:16"
5. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre +1:24"
6. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky +2:11"
7. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini +2:43"
8. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre +2:44"
9. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky +2:49"
10. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana +3:02"