Giro d'Italia - Stage 9

Stage 9, Cava dei Tirreni-Castrovillari, 232km:

  1. Dimitry Konyshev (Rus) Roslotto         6.14.18
  2. Mariano Piccoli (Ita) Brescialat
  3. Roberto Petito (Ita) Saeco
  4. Massimiliano Gentili (Ita) Cantina
  5. Marco Vergnani (Ita) Amore Vita
  6. Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Roslotto
  7. Martin Hvastija (Slo) Cantina
  8. Nicola Loda (Ita) MG
  9. Alessio Barbagli (Ita) Scrigno
 10. Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita) Mapei)
 11. Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Refin
 12. Mirko Gualdi (Ita) Polti
 13. Roberto Moretti (Ita) Kross
 14. Andrea Noe (Ita) Asics
 15. Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Batik
 16. Giuseppe Di Grande (Ita) Mapei)
 17. Uwe Peschel (Ger) Cantina
 18. Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Festina
 19. Marco Fincato (Ita) Roslotto
 20. Giuseppe Guerini (Ita) Polti           all s.t.


  1. Pavel Tonkov (Rus) Mapei               40.47.10
  2. Luc Leblanc (Fra) Polti                 	0.41
  3. Ivan Gotti (Ita) Saeco                 	1.07
  4. Roberto Petito (Ita) Saeco              	1.09
  5. Andrea Paluan (Ita) Cantina             	1.39
  6. Andrea Noe (Ita) Asics                  	1.43
  7. Michele Coppolillo (Ita) MG             	1.49
  8. Paolo Savoldelli (Ita)  Roslotto        	2.40
  9. Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Refin            	2.49
 10. Alexander Chefer (Kaz) Asics            	3.05
 11. Gilberto Simoni (Ita) MG                	3.14
 12. Nicola Miceli (Ita) Aki                 	3.50
 13. Giuseppe Guerini (Ita) Polti            	3.58
 14. Piotr Ugrumov (Rus) Roslotto            	3.59
 15. Enrico Zaina (Ita) Asics                	4.01
 16. Giuseppe Di Grande (Ita) Mapei          	4.02
 17. Wladimir Belli (Ita) Brescialat         	4.39
 18. Nicola Loda (Ita) MG                    	5.00
 19. Filippo Simeoni (Ita) Asics             	5.01
 20. Axel Merckx (Bel) Polti                 	5.09

Stage 9 Reports

DIMITRI KONYSHEV of Russia headed a mass finish to the ninth stage of the Giro d'Italia from Cava de'Tirreni on Sunday. He edged out Italians Mariano Piccoli and Roberto Petito after the 232 km haul, longest section of the three-week race to date. Petito's third place earned a four seconds time deduction which brought him within two seconds of third overall. Konyshev's compatriot Pavel Tonkov still rules by 41 seconds from Frenchman Luc Leblanc. He has now worn the leader's pink jersey for a week. Konyshev has carried the colors of Intergiro leader since the Giro began in Venice nine days ago.

Dmitry Konyshev underscored the Russian influence in the Giro d'Italia by snatching the ninth stage on Sunday.

The finishing power, which has kept him in the royal blue of best intermediate sprinter since the Giro began in Venice, was too much for Italian Mariano Piccoli in a mass finish to the 232 kilometres from Cava de' Tirreni.

Piccoli, wearing the green jersey of best climber, drove hard for the finish line, riding alone in the right-hand gutter, but Konyshev on the far side of the road was too fast.

It was the third Russian stage victory following those of race leader Pavel Tonkov in the San Marino time trial and on the Terminillo mountain last Wednesday.

Tonkov maintained his overall lead of 41 seconds over Frenchman Luc Leblanc for a seventh day and Konyshev said his compatriot would be tough to depose although the Milan finale is still two weeks away.

``Only a bad day or an unlucky break may shift him,'' he said. ``The loss of Marco Pantani could bring more work on Pavel's team mates. If Pantani had been there for the mountains then it might have been easier for them.

``It's a pity he has gone because the Giro is poorer and the Italian fans really came to see him.''

The Italian climber is expected to be out of action for 10 days after Saturday's high-speed crash caused by a wayward cat. Further checks revealed a one-centimetre tear in his left thigh muscle and internal bleeding.

Pantani faces eight to 10 days of treatment with doctor Flavio Terragnoli, who took care of him when he shattered his left shin in 1995.

After laser and electro-therapy Pantani hopes to be ready for the Tour of Switzerland which starts on June 17.

Another victim of that spill, Swiss champion Armin Meier, has been ruled out for the rest of the season after an operation on a double fracture of his right heel.

``That crash overshadowed the victory of my team mate Mario Manzoni. The newspapers were full of Pantani,'' Konyshev said. ``But again we have shown that our team are a force and in good shape.''

Italian Roberto Petito finished third at Castrovillari and with a deduction of four seconds for his placing moved to within two seconds of third overall position.

It was the only shift of power in a tussle which is almost certain to remain the same after Monday's race along the Puglia coast.

Pantani retires from Giro

Italian pre-race favourite Marco Pantani pulled out of the Giro d'Italia on Sunday after being hurt in a crash on Saturday, his team said.

Pantani, one of eight riders to fall when a cat ran across the course some 30 km from the eighth-stage finish, underwent hospital tests on Sunday morning. Doctors said after the accident that he had suffered bruising to his body and legs but

Team manager Davide Cassani told Reuters that Pantani was heading home and would have an ultrasound test on Monday.

``He has to rest because he has muscle injuries and a badly bruised and swollen left leg,'' Cassani said.

``Tomorrow he will have an ultrasound and we'll know more. I think, I hope, that within 10 days he'll be back on his bike.''

Cassani said that the accident had dealt a huge blow to the 27-year-old rider's morale. Pantani, who was out for 16 months after shattering his left shin in an accident in 1995, still hoped to ride in next month's Tour of Switzerland and the Tour de France.

Marco Pantani's dreams crashed around him yet again on Sunday when he had to pull out of the Giro d'Italia cycle race after a bad fall.

The Italian pre-race favourite, who had returned only this season from a 16-month lay-off after shattering his leg in a crash, was one of eight riders to fall when a cat ran across the course near the end of Saturday's eighth stage.

``He's very, very depressed,'' team manager Davide Cassani told Reuters as Pantani packed his bags and headed for home to watch the rest of the race on television -- as he has had to do for the past two years.

``He was just starting to go well. He didn't think he'd win but he was feeling good. He just didn't need this fall at all.''

Pantani, 27, had been fifth overall going into Saturday's stage but had shown his old climbing power earlier in the week when he finished third on the 1,675-metre Terminillo mountain.

Cassani said Saturday's crash caused muscle injuries, bad swellings and bruising to Pantani's left leg -- the one that doctors had to rebuild after a near-fatal crash on a fast downhill stretch of the Milan-Turin race in October 1995.

Pantani got back on his bike and made it to the finish, surrounded by team mates. Cassani said he would undergo an ultrasound test on Monday. ``I think, I hope, that within 10 days he'll be back on his bike,'' he said.

Pantani told his Mercatone Uno team on Saturday that he had seen the cat and two riders on the ground but that he was going at more than 80 kph and was helpless to avoid them.

``Why does it always happen to me?'' he asked. ``Why is it always me who has to get hurt?''

Pantani's triumphs have gone hand-in-hand with misfortune.

He shot into the limelight with consecutive mountain stage wins in the 1994 Giro, coming second overall that year. But he was out of the race in 1995 after a bad training crash.

He recovered enough to place third in the 1995 Tour de France and won a bronze in the world championships that year. Shortly afterwards, he smashed into a jeep in the Milan-Turin race and was out until three months ago.

Over the last 10 years, he has suffered fractures of the collar bone, wrist, arm, foot and ribs. There have also been two concussions, a dislocated shoulder and an impacted disc.

``Not a year goes by without something happening to him,'' his father Ferdinando Pantani said. ``What is it, bad luck? Destiny?''

Cassani said Pantani still hoped to ride in next month's Tour of Switzerland as preparation for the Tour de France in July.

Pantani himself was too depressed to think ahead. ``I don't want to think about the future. I was in the Giro and that's all I'd been thinking about for seven months,'' he said on Saturday.

``I'd rather have been beaten by rivals, not by misfortune. I don't just want to be remembered as a rider with terrible luck.