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Giro d'Italia 2021, stage nine – live updates - GETTY IMAGES

Giro d’Italia 2021, stage nine – live updates – GETTY IMAGES

02:02 PM

21km to go

Simon Carr and Geoffrey Bouchard still lead the chasers by 18sec, the peloton another 2min 20sec down the road. The pace has increased in the main bunch with a number of riders struggling with the pace being set by Ineos Grenadiers and Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious).

02:00 PM

What’s to follow?

finalefinale

finale

01:58 PM

23.5km to go

Simon Carr is sat on the wheel of Geoffrey Bouchard as the pair edge towards the summit of the Ovindoli climb, but their advantage has dropped slightly to around 16sec.

01:55 PM

25km to go

The rain is falling and Geoffrey Bouchard has bridged over to Simon Carr. The pair now leads the stage by 25sec, the peloton another 2min 30sec down the road.

01:52 PM

26.5km to go

Simon Carr attacks. The 22-year-old who was born in Hereford, but grew up in the foothills of the Pyrenees, has a handful of seconds on the chasers in this his debut outing at a grand tour.

01:48 PM

27.5km to go

Simon Carr (EF Education-Nippo) has managed to bride over to the leading group, but can the young Briton hold the wheels? The race is very much on now as Salvatore Puccio continues to ride on the front for Inoes Grenadiers, suggesting that Egan Bernal is feeling strong.

01:47 PM

29km to go: All change on the front

The breakaway has split up, leaving George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma), Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r-Citroën), Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education-Nippo) and Michael Storer (DSM) out in front but Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) is chasing back over, but can the Dutchman regain contact?

01:42 PM

31.1km to go

Diego Ulissi attacks off the front of the breakaway, Tanel Kangert follows the Italian who has eight stage wins to his name, while George Bennett, Nicolas Edet and Michael Storer are not far behind.

01:40 PM

31.5km to go

The breakaway has lost over 30 seconds since Ineos Grenadiers moved to the front.

01:39 PM

32.5km to go

Ineos Grenadiers shift to the front of the peloton. Egan Bernal gets on the radio to talk to his directeur sportif in the following team car. Almost immediately with Salvatore Puccio pulling on the front, the pace increases and the breakaway’s lead drops slightly.

01:30 PM

35km to go

The breakaway’s lead increases to 3min 30sec and they will be starting to think about personal glory today. There is a nice balance of promising young riders here – Simon Carr (EF Education-Nippo) and Einer Rubio (Movistar) – recent stage winners such as Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) and Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education-Nippo), experienced old hands like Tony Gallopin (Ag2r-Citroën), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Luis León Sánchez (Astana-Premier Tech). But will this 17-man group stick together and all do their turn, or are the silly games going to start soon?

Breakaway - GETTY IMAGESBreakaway - GETTY IMAGES

Breakaway – GETTY IMAGES

Interesting, too, to see George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) in the group. The Kiwi arrived at the Giro hoping to challenge for the general classification, but witha deficit of 8min 55sec on Attila Valter I think he can forget about that for another year. With team-mate Koen Bouwman also in this group he will be hoping for something today.

01:23 PM

40km to go

There are some very dark clouds looming overhead. With just one more stage before Tuesday’s rest day, the peloton will be praying it can make it through today without another drenching.

CloudsClouds

Clouds

01:19 PM

43km to go

Both the breakaway and peloton are descending at roughly the same speed, the gradient looking fairly shallow. Not too far away from the second intermediate sprint of the day in Celano, but it is seconds that are up for grabs – along with a few euros for the first three riders – rather than points so not sure it will be too fiercely contested.

01:05 PM

54km to go

Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r-Citroën) goes over the summit of the Forca Caruso first to add another nine points to his tally in the mountains classification, but the Frenchman still trails Gino Mäder (Bahrain Victorious) in that particular competition. The Ag2r-Citroën rider is 11 points off Mäder and although he can close that gap on the Swiss today if he takeS more points atop the next categorised climb – the Ovindoli – he may have to win the stage in order to take the maglia azzurra off Mäder’s shoulders.

12:58 PM

58.5km to go

The breakaway has stolen a few seconds on the peloton, but one suspects that unless their advantage increases by a few more minutes, they may struggle to hold off the charging pack later this afternoon. With a stage win and pink jersey within touching distance, you really have to think that Remco Evenepoel and Egan Bernal will fancy a crack at Attila Valter today. The young Hungarian has sounded incredibly assured during his interviews, confident in himself and not scared of saying he wants to fight for pink.

12:48 PM

63km to go

The breakaway’s lead increases to a shade over three minutes. Incidentally, Simon Carr (EF Education-Nippo) who is in this move is one of four talented first-year neo-pros that we wrote about in a recent feature on the next wave of Britons set to rule the roads.

Britain's got talent: Meet the next wave of British cyclists set to rule the roads Britain's got talent: Meet the next wave of British cyclists set to rule the roads 

Britain’s got talent: Meet the next wave of British cyclists set to rule the roads

He sounds like an interesting young lad who hold dual nationality and, interesting, finished 11th at Strade Bianche back in March – I wonder if that means he is going to float over the gravel later today, or possibly Wednesday’s mouthwatering stage back in Tuscany?

12:43 PM

65km to go

Eduardo Sepúlveda​ (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) bridges over to the breakaway. The Argentine will, one assumes, now be avoiding a rollicking from his team manager Gianni Savio who insists on his riders making the break almost every day. Apparently he was fuming on Saturday when none of his man got in the front group.

12:36 PM

67.5km to go

On the approach to the next categorised climb of the day, the Forca Caruso, the peloton looks fairly calm as it trails the breakaway by a shade over two minutes. Groupama-FDJ have assumed control at the head of the bunch, just ahead of Ineos Grenadiers while Deceuninck-Quick Step, the team of Remco Evenepoel, are tucked in behind.

12:32 PM

Today’s finish line . . .

As mentioned earlier, the final 1,600 metres of today’s stage will be contested over a gravel / rocky road. Eurosport briefly showed what it looks like, saying that their man on the ground there said race organisers had been out rolling the loose gravel in an attempt to pack it down, but that there were some loose sections. If those mountains were not in the background, you could be forgiven for thinking this was the finishing line at Tro-Bro Léon, the one-day race that is currently taking place in Brittany, northern France.

FinaleFinale

Finale

There are reports that it may rain later near the finish and so that may have an impact on the finale. Nobody will want to puncture on here, it could be game over for anybody that does.

12:21 PM

That breakaway in full . . .

George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma), Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r-Citroën), Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma), Simon Carr (EF Education-Nippo), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Matteo Fabbro (Bora-Hansgrohe), Tony Gallopin (Ag2r-Citroën), Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education-Nippo), Tanel Kangert (BikeExchange), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Einer Rubio (Movistar), Luis León Sánchez (Astana-Premier Tech), Michael Storer (DSM), Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), Giovanni Visconti (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) and Filippo Zana (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane). The 16-man group leads by 1min 45sec, and there are 80km of today’s stage remaining.

12:11 PM

85km to go

Simon Carr (EF Education-Nippo), who has looked lively all day, shifted off the front of the peloton a few minutes ago before he was soon joined by some real hitters. The young Briton has Luis León Sánchez (Astana-Premier Tech), Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r-Citroën), Tony Gallopin (Ag2r-Citroën) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) for company – along with a handful of others. Full details to follow very shortly.

12:00 PM

Chaos, carnage and confusion: As it stands . . .

Afternoon, well as expected it was a frenetic start to today’s stage once the 175-rider peloton passed through KM0 at 11.26am (BST). There was one non-starter today – Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto-Soudal) – but the list of riders to abandon soon lengthened.

A number of small breakaways formed, but having descended off the category one Passo Godi the lead group’s advantage was whittled away leaving Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r-Citroën), the winner of the mountains classification at the Vuelta a España in 2019, out in front.

The biggest story of the day, thus far, is the withdrawal of Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious). Riding second wheel on the descent of the Passo Godi, the Slovenian appeared to feather his brakes before the front wheel locked up – he was riding on disc brakes – propelling him over his handlebars, landing on his head and skidding across the road. It was a terrifying incident that left a slightly sickening feeling in the pit of the stomach.

Mohoric immediately jumped to his feet while once his team car arrived they quickly jumped out with a new bike to replace his, whose fork appeared to have snapped off. However, once they had spoken to the rider it was very quickly decided that he would not continue.

MohoricMohoric

Mohoric

With 90km of today’s stage remaining a breakaway has yet to form, though not for the want of trying.

08:30 AM

Wiggins: Evenepoel and Bernal are both vulnerable

Two of the big favourites to take hold of the leader’s pink jersey later today are Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) who start the stage second and third respectively, with just five seconds separating the pair. But will either of them manage to do that? Sir Bradley Wiggins is not so sure.

Remco Evenepoel – Giro d'Italia 2021, stage nine – live updates - EPARemco Evenepoel – Giro d'Italia 2021, stage nine – live updates - EPA

Remco Evenepoel – Giro d’Italia 2021, stage nine – live updates – EPA

Speaking on The Bradley Wiggins Show by Eurosport, he said: “I don’t think anyone knows, I don’t think he [Evenepoel] knows [if he can win]. He said his legs were dead. It’s the longest he’s ever been into a race now after nine months off where he broke his pelvis. It could just snap for him one day and he could lose a packet [of time].

Egan Bernal - Giro d'Italia 2021, stage nine – live updates - EPAEgan Bernal - Giro d'Italia 2021, stage nine – live updates - EPA

Egan Bernal – Giro d’Italia 2021, stage nine – live updates – EPA

“I still think Bernal [is favourite]. They’re both vulnerable in some ways. There is an element of unknown with the pair of them. Is Bernal’s back going to hold up for three weeks? I think Ineos have the strongest team in the mountains. I think Bernal is going to put his mark down, potentially tomorrow [Sunday].

“Is Evenepoel willing to push the envelope out enough to win the race or will he be satisfied with his first Giro, after nine months away, back racing to finish on the podium? Who knows?”

08:10 AM

Today’s menu . . .

Sunday’s stage is due to get under way at 11.25am (BST), while our live coverage kicks off at 1pm by which point we suspect the peloton – and possibly a breakaway – will have reached the first climb of the day, the category two Passo Godi which is 13.9km long with an average gradient of 4.1%. Incidentally, despite today being the most mountainous of the race thus far, none of the climbs go above 1,657 metres above sea level meaning none of the riders should suffer with any altitude issues – and equally those that were born to race at 2,000m+ will not be able to gain any physiological advantages over their rivals once the road goes up high into the clouds.

Stage nine profileStage nine profile

Stage nine profile

Anyway, here’s what the official website says about the day ahead: “This queen stage across the Apennines of Abruzzo takes in several ascents, including four categorised climbs. From the start until Celano, the route takes in a succession of long climbs on moderately wide roads, followed by sometimes technical descents.

Ovindoli Ovindoli 

Ovindoli

“Past Ovindoli (see above), the route enters the Piana delle Rocche and becomes somewhat easier, up to Rocca di Cambio (below). Here, the course makes for Campo Felice, taking in the closing climb.

Rocca di CambioRocca di Cambio

Rocca di Cambio

“The final climb is nearly 6km long, and the gradients are not very sharp. After a long, well-lit tunnel stretching from 3 to 2km remaining to the finish, the final 1,600 metres, as well as the home straight, are on unpaved roads, with peaks topping out at 14% over the last 500m.”

Campo FeliceCampo Felice

Campo Felice

From what I’ve heard, the final 1,600 metres of the stage are a little more than simply ‘unpaved roads’ but more of a gravel / rocky path that is up near a ski piste. Anyway, despite what some have been saying, today’s does not look massively difficult, though that may depend on how hard the stage is raced. None of the categorised climbs are too steep, though there are some ramps that will do some damage. On paper, the stage looks perfect breakaway territory and one has to wonder if now that Caleb Ewan has gone home, his Lotto-Soudal team-mate Thomas De Gendt will be plotting something today. His old breakaway pal Alessandro De Marchi, the former maglia rosa, may fancy a crack too along with Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-Nippo). One suspects – this is pure speculation, of course – that once the stage reaches its finale there will be two races going on: one for the line honours, the other a big battle for Attila Valter‘s (Groupama-FDJ) pink jersey.

07:40 AM

Catch up: Highlights from yesterday’s stage

07:40 AM

Ciao!

Hello and welcome to our live blog from stage nine at the Giro d’Italia, the 158-kilometre run from Castel di Sangro to Campo Felice.

Following yesterday’s stage that was won by Victor Lafay (Cofidis), Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ), the 22-year-old Hungarian, kept hold top spot in both the general and youth classification and will for a third successive day be dressed in the maglia rosa, or the pink jersey.

Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) bailed fairly early into the stage meaning Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) regained top spot in the points competition and today will wear the maglia ciclamino, the cyclamen jersey, for a fourth day – not a bad run for the grand tour debutant.

With the nine-man breakaway taking the points in the mountains classification, Gino Mäder (Bahrain Victorious) was able to keep hold of top spot and so goes into today’s mountainous stage wearing the third maglia azzurra – blue jersey – of the 24-year-old’s career.

The top three in the youth classification mirrors that of the overall and so Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) will wear the maglia bianca, or the white jersey, on behalf of Valter.

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