Sir Bradley Wiggins remains fourth after Giro d'Italia stage 9

Sir Bradley Wiggins remains fourth after Giro d'Italia stage 9

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Great Britain’s Sir Bradley Wiggins maintained his challenge for the Giro d’Italia after another demanding day on stage 9 in the Grand Tour.

The Team Sky rider finished in the chasing group with maglia rosa wearer Vincenzo Nibali in another rain soaked stage to keep the Briton fourth in the general classification - one minute and 16 seconds behind the Italian.

Maxim Belkov (Katyusha) soloed to the stage win, 44 seconds clear of Colombian Carlos Betancur.

Tour de France winner Wiggins had found himself 40 seconds behind Nibali on the descent of the category one climb Vallombrosa with just under 40-kilometres remaining on the 173-kilometre course from Sansepolcro to Florence.

Nibali was amongst the chasing group behind Belkov, who had earlier dropped Robinson Chalapud and Stefano Pirazzi, but Wiggins was able to bridge the gap on the Vetta Le Croci with just under 25-kilometres to race and finish with the reduced leading group.

It ensures Wiggins loses no further time in his quest to become the first British rider to win the Giro.

Fellow Brit Mark Cavendish relinquished his red jersey as Australian Cadel Evans took the lead in the points classification.

Team Sky's Sports Director Marcus Ljungqvist assessed: "The stage worked out well in the end. The guys raced as a team, didn’t panic and that was the key today. We were able to chase down the gap and at the end of the day we’ve moved up the GC with Rigoberto and Sergio. We have to be happy with that after a hard stage like this."

With four categorised climbs, stage 9 looked likely to favour a break. By the first climb, the Passo della Consuma, 12 escapees had left the bunch with a three minute and 20 second gap.

Colombian Robinson Chalapud then attacked the break and was soon joined by Italian Pirazzi before Belkov reached the pair and on the Vallombrosa climb left both behind as he pursued the stage victory.

Further back Wiggins found himself a minute and 15 behind the leading group of Nibali and Astana before gradually, and importantly, nullifying the attack of his general classifciation rival. Defending champion Ryder Hesjedal lost further time finishing over one minute back from Wiggins' group.

Monday sees the first rest day of the tour before Tuesday's 167-kilometre stage from Cordenons to Montasio.

Stage result

1. BELKOV Maxim Katusha Team 04:31:31
2. BETANCUR GOMEZ Carlos Alberto AG2R La Mondiale 00:44
3. PANTANO GOMEZ Jarlinson Team Colombia 00:46
4. LUDVIGSSON Tobias Team Argos - Shimano 00:54
5. EVANS Cadel BMC Racing Team 01:03
6. INTXAUSTI Benat Movistar Team ,,
7. DI LUCA Danilo Vini Fantini ,,
8. SANTAMBROGIO Mauro Vini Fantini ,,
9. CARUSO Damiano Cannondale Pro Cycling Team ,,
10. NIBALI Vincenzo Astana Pro Team ,,
24. WIGGINS Bradley Sky Procycling ,,

General classification

1. NIBALI Vincenzo Astana Pro Team 34:19:31
2. EVANS Cadel BMC Racing Team 00:29
3. GESINK Robert Blanco Pro Cycling Team 01:15
4. WIGGINS Bradley Sky Procycling 01:16
5. SCARPONI Michele Lampre - Merida 01:24
6. HENAO MONTOYA Sergio Luis Sky Procycling 02:11
7. SANTAMBROGIO Mauro Vini Fantini 02:43
8. NIEMIEC Przemyslaw Lampre - Merida 02:44
9. URAN Rigoberto Sky Procycling 02:49
10. KANGERT Tanel Astana Pro Team 03:02

Great Britain Cycling Team kit 15/16