Giro 8: Kanstantsin Sivtsov solos for victory

Di Luca 3rd, keeps maglia rosa

Belarussian Kanstantsin Sivtsov handed the Columbia team their third victory of the centenary Tour of Italy when he won the 209km eighth stage from Morbegno to Bergamo on Saturday.

Race leader Danilo Di Luca retained the race leader's pink jersey, taking his advantage over Swede Thomas Lovkvist to 13 seconds after sprinting to third place.

Sivtsov said he benefitted from local knowledge.

"I live just 25 kilometres from Bergamo, parts of the course pass by there. I know the roads by heart and I know when the best moment is to attack," he said. "This is my finest win and at the finish line, my wife, who is expecting a baby, was waiting."

The efforts of Di Luca, the Giro champion in 2007, prevented a podium sweep for on-form Columbia, for whom Australian Michael Rogers finished fourth, and gave him eight bonus seconds to add to his five-second overnight lead on Lovkvist.

Sivtsov broke clear with 15km to race and held off the fast finishing remnants of the peloton to win in 5:04:34.

Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen took second behind his team-mate 21 seconds back just a day after winning his maiden stage on the race.

Columbia also won the race's opening stage, a team time trial which put the pink jersey on the shoulders of their main sprinter, Manxman Mark Cavendish.

Stage 8 highlights

The day was made for a long breakaway and around the 40km mark a group of 10 riders managed to start putting some daylight between themselves and the field.

They opened up a maximum lead of 4 minutes, 30 seconds but on the penultimate climb of the day they were swallowed up by the peloton.

The 6.3km long Colle del Gallo, just over 30km from home, saw an interesting move from some of the top GC contenders with Astana's Levi Leipheimer, 2004 champion Damiano Cunego of Lampre, Franco Pellizotti of Liquigas, Rogers and Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone) amongst them.

They had opened up a 54-second gap on the bunch by the top of the climb, which had seen the peloton disintegrate to around 30 riders.

At that point Rogers, who began the day in third place at 36 seconds from Di Luca, was the virtual leader on the road but Di Luca's LPR team led a determined chase on the descent ahead of the final short Bergamo Alta climb.

Di Luca said: "There was no panic when Leipheimer attacked, I knew we were still a long way from the finish.

"The other teams with an interest in the pink jersey, Rabobank, Cervelo, Diquigiovanni, came up to the front and helped us bring the escape back. Maybe they (attackers) wanted to see if I could be put into difficulty, but I'm calm - that's my nature. And I have a pretty good team behind me."

The chase was successful and reeled in the escapees but almost immediately Sivtsov jumped clear.

He pulled out a gap of 40 seconds before clinging on all the way to the line on the final 3.5km descent.

Sunday's ninth stage, a pancake flat 165k of racing on 10 laps of a Milan city circuit, could finish in a bunch sprint, with Cavendish among those tipped for the stage win.

Looking forward to that possibility is Columbia team boss Bob Stapleton.

"We hope that Mark can come out to play tomorrow, and show again that he's the fastest sprinter in the world," he said. "The course suits him for sure and we'll try to win another stage and keep the run of success going."

Horillo in serious condition following Stage 8 crash

Spanish cyclist Pedro Horrillo (Rabobank) was placed in an induced coma on Saturday and described as being in a serious condition after crashing badly during the eighth stage of the Tour of Italy from Morbegno to Bergamo.

The 34-year-old crashed on the descent of the Culmine di San Pietro mountain about 70km into the 209km race and was airlifted to hospital in Bergamo.

"His condition is serious, but stable," said Rabobank team doctor Dr. Leinders who added that Horrillo lost blood and suffered multiple fractures.

"The trauma to the throat is complicated," he added. "The most urgent thing to treat his breathing difficulties. He will be kept in a coma for 24 hours. The good news is that a scan revealed there had been no brain damage."

© AFP 2009

For full results, report and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com. Read Procycling features editor Daniel Friebe's Giro blogs here; always entertaining!

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