Italy's Daniele Bennati, of the Liquigas team, clinched the ninth stage of the Tour of Italy on Sunday in a thrilling photo-finish. Bennati just edged fellow Tuscan and world champion Paolo Bettini in a sprint finish which stormed through the final 3000 metres at the end of a gruelling 218km stage.
Australia's Robbie McEwen was third on the day just ahead of Germany's Erik Zabel.
Italian champion Giovanni Visconti, of the Quick Step team, stayed in the overall lead as the three-week event heads into a rest day on Monday, a welcome rest before the race moves along the Adriatic coast.
"I am in very good condition because I have done two sprints. I was with Zabel but when he didn't attack, I went instead," explained Bennati. "As usual I raised my arms but then I felt a rocket had arrived at my side, it was Bettini. I feel sorry for him as this is the only stage in Tuscany but I came to win.
"In the sprints, it's a lot easier to lose than to win. It's a shame that the last stage will be a time-trial in place of a sprint. I have won them in Paris on the Tour de France and in Madrid on the Vuelta. In Milan what I can hope for is the points classification."
Ukraine's Yuri Krivtsov launched a break and was quickly joined by France's Mickaël Buffaz 50km from the finish before they were caught by the peloton.
For the 27-year-old Bennati, it was his second stage success of the race. He also won the second stage last Monday at Milazzo in Sicily.
For a full report and photos from stage 9, visit Cyclingnews.