Australian rider Matthew Goss won a sprint finish to the ninth stage of the Tour of Italy, a 187 kilometres ride from Frosinone to Cava de’Tirreni, recording his country’s third success in the race this year.
Kazakh veteran Alexandre Vinokourov retained the overall lead, a minute 12 seconds clear of Australia’s road race world champion Cadel Evans in second place.
Goss, 23, and who finished second in the second stage of this year’s edition, beat home Italian champion Filippo Pozzato while American Tyler Farrar was third in a sprint finish that was unusually contested also by Evans and Vinokourov.
Russian rider Mikhail Ignatiev had tried to make a clean break 10km from the finish along with Canada’s Michael Barry before being swept up five kilometres later.
The peloton, while pursuing the duo, had been briefly cut in two 15km from the finish as Vinokourov’s Astana team upped the pace forcing Evans and another rival for the overall crown, Italian Ivan Basso, to chase them down.
Tuesday’s 10th stage takes the race to its southernmost point with the 230km ride from Avellino to Bitonto.
Aussie sprinter Cooke pulls out
Meanwhile Australian sprinter Baden Cooke has pulled out of the Tour of Italy because of tendinitis in his knee, his Saxo Bank team announced Monday.
A statement from team sports director Dan Frost said the support of Cooke, a former winner of the Tour de France green jersey for the points competition, will be missed by his teammates.
“We sure could have benefited from his strength this coming week but with the pain he is suffering now, it is just pointless to continue the race,” said Frost.
Saxo Bank came into the race with modest ambitions however their Danish climber Chris Anker Sorensen won the eighth stage on Sunday when the peloton raced through the fog to the first summit finish at Terminillo.
Another Australian, Tasmanian Richie Porte, is sitting sixth overall on his major Tour debut at 2min 26sec behind Kazakhstan’s Alexandre Vinokourov of Astana.