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After nine stage wins at last year's Giro, it has taken Alessandro Petacchi until the ninth stage of this year's race to get his first win. Set up perfectly by his Fassa Bortolo team-mates on the road into Ravenna, Petacchi was a clear winner, finishing a couple of bike lengths ahead of Paolo Bettini, who slipped by Robbie McEwen on the line. The Australian, who heads the points standings, also lost third place to Phonak's Aurlien Clerc.
Suggestions that Fassa's sprinter and 'train' have been misfiring because their minds are on their team's widely reported lack of a sponsor for next season may have been laughed off by team manager Giancarlo Ferretti, but there is no doubt they needed this win. Tomorrow is a rest day and for the sport's most dominant sprinter to go into it without a victory would have been unthinkable at the start of the race. So, hats off to Petacchi and Fassa for dealing with that pressure.
After Marco Velo had pulled aside and Petacchi started his sprint for the line it looked as if Petacchi might get crowded out again as Isaac Galvez and McEwen came up on his right. The Italian edged right towards the barriers and effectively made sure they could not come through - or at least this was how it looked from front on. From above, Petacchi was already in the lead and going away.
All of the leading riders on GC finished in the front group, which meant no significant change overall. However, procycling columnist Tom Danielson was unfortunately forced out of his first major tour with a knee problem that has been troubling him since the end of the Tour de Georgia.
Stage 9, Florence-Ravenna
1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 142km in 3.15.32 (43.57kph)
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step
3 Aurlien Clerc (Swi) Phonak
4 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
5 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile
6 Paride Grillo (Ita) Panaria
7 Isaac Galvez (Spa) Illes Balears
8 Robert Forster (Ger) Gerolsteiner
9 Andrea Moletta (Ita) Gerolsteiner
10 Simone Cadamuro (Ita) Domina Vacanze
DNF Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel
1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 39.22.19
2 Ivan Basso (Ita) CSC 0.09
3 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel 0.35
4 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 1.15
5 Dario Cioni (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 1.27
6 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 1.35
7 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 1.38
8 Serhiy Honchar (Ukr) Domina Vacanze 1.39
9 Markus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner 2.10
10 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 2.11
79 Charly Wegelius (GB) Liquigas-Bianchi 21.31
121 Bradley Wiggins (GB) Crdit Agricole 36.30
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