Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) soloed to victory on stage nine of the Giro d’Italia to cap a great first week for the Kazakh-based team.
On a day which saw team-mate Fabio Aru claw back another second to race leader Alberto Contador thanks to a powerful sprint to the line, Tiralongo was already celebrating his third career Giro stage win.
The 37-year-old Italian got into the move of 11 riders which only broke clear of the peloton after 52km – with stage eight breakaway riders Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) again earning time up the road.
Former Giro champion Ryder Hesjedal, Cannondale-Garmin team-mate Tom-Jelte Slagter, Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin), Jesus Herrada (Movistar), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Amael Moinard (BMC Racing), Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) also added significant firepower to the move.
They were already nearly six minutes clear at the top of the day’s first climb, the category two Monte Termino, but that was quickly cut to size as the pace was kept high in the peloton.
With the bunch shredded on the category-one ascent of the Colle Molella, the break was also trimmed down with Geschke leading the way over the summit.
Tinkoff-Saxo controlled the pace at the front, but Astana again made nuisances of themselves – Dario Cataldo making a short-lived burst off the front which Contador’s team-mates had to shut down.
Slagter went off the front of the break to build up a solo advantage, which grew in size as the peloton was slowed because of a motorcycle crashing on one of the sharp bends on the Molella descent.
The counter-attacks followed behind, but nothing stuck until Tiralongo’s third attempted attack on the Passo Serra.
Astana also boasted a numerical advantage at the front of the peloton, and again looked to make it count as Aru attacked, dragging team-mate Mikel Landa, Richie Porte (Team Sky) and Contador with him.
They started picking off the remnants of the breakaway and, knowing Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep) had missed the move pressed on as a quartet to put time into the Colombian.
At the front, Tiralongo caught and passed Slagter on the final climb, with eight kilometres remaining, and pressed on alone to claim the Kazakh team’s first stage win of this year’s race.
Further back, after the survivors of the day’s break had finished 20 seconds back from Tiralongo, Aru sprinted hard for the line and picked up a second in the process.
Contador and Porte finished in the same time, meanwhile, ensuring the three remain locked in a three-way battle for the maglia rosa, which will resume on Tuesday.
Giro d’Italia 2015: stage nine – result
1) Paolo Tiralongo (ITA) – Astana – 5.50.31hrs
2) Steven Kruijswijk (NED) – LottoNL-Jumbo +21”
3) Simon Geschke (GER) – Giant-Alpecin +23”
4) Amael Moinard (FRA) – BMC Racing – ST
5) Jesus Herrada (ESP) – Movistar
6) Carlos Betancur (COL) – Ag2r-La Mondiale
7) Tom-Jelte Slagter (NED) – Cannondale-Garmin
8) Kenny Elissonde (FRA) – FDJ
9) Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) – Cannondale-Garmin +27”
10) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana +56”
1) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Tinkoff-Saxo – 38.31.35hrs
2) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana +3”
3) Richie Porte (AUS) – Team Sky +22”
4) Mikel Landa (ESP) – Astana +46”
5) Dario Cataldo (ITA) – Astana +1.16
6) Roman Kreuziger (CZE) – Tinkoff-Saxo +1.46
7) Giovanni Visconti (ITA) – Movistar +2.02
8) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Etixx-QuickStep +2.10
9) Damiano Caruso (ITA) – BMC Racing +2.20
10) Andrey Amador (CRC) – Movistar +2.24