Norway?s Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC) snatched Giro d’Italia stage victory from Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) after the world champion lead out the sprint to the line in Fiorano Modenese on Sunday.
Bettini and Arvesen were part of the decisive 22-rider break that shaped the 200km stage across the Apennine hills from Barberino di Mugello near Florence. Bettini charged after late attacker Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff Credit Systems) in the final 500 metres but only served to perfectly lead out Arvesen, who then jumped past to win the stage. Bettini banged his handlebars in anger after yet another placing in this year?s Giro but had to accept that Arvesen had outwitted him with some clever riding.
?I really wanted to win and left everybody behind except Arvesen,? Bettini said.
?I?m sorry I beat Bettini like that, he did a good long sprint but I had to do it,? Arvesen replied.
?I win a race every four years, while he wins a lot every season. I know a lot of the Italian cycling fans wanted him to win the stage but I also live in Italy, near Lake Garda, and so I had to win for my fans,” Arvesen continued.
Arvesen was amateur world champion in 1997 and won a stage in the 2003 Giro d?Italia in Faenza, with a similar attack and strong sprint. He missed the start of the 2007 season after breaking his thumb during a training camp in February but is now back on form.
?I won in the same way four years ago. There was an early break of 16 riders, then it came down to five riders and I won the sprint,? Arvesen recalled.
?I had a difficult start to the season and came into form later in the season but now I?ve won a stage at the Giro things are all good.?
PINOTTI LOSES TIME BUT KEEPS RACE LEAD
Italy?s Marco Pinotti finished in the main peloton, four minutes and 19 seconds behind Arvesen, but retained the overall race lead. Italy?s Andrea Noe and Kazakhstan?s Serguei Yakovlev, who were in the 22-rider attack with Arvesen, are now second and third overall at 28 and 54 seconds respectively, but Pinotti was happy to hold onto the pink race-leader?s jersey for another day.
?I?ve got to thank the team if I?ve kept the pink jersey,? Pinotti said.
?Axel Merckx, Lorenzo Bernucci and my other team mates worked really hard during the stage. Keeping the jersey is like winning the stage for us. It?s going to be hard to keep it in the next few days but we?ll try.?
Monday?s 177km ninth stage is from Reggio Emilia to Lido di Camaiore on the Tuscan coast and after some early hills, should end in a sprint, with Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) favourite in his home town.
RESULTS: GIRO D’ITALIA STAGE 8
1 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC 197km in 4-44-59 (41.476 km/h)
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quickstep – Innergetic
3 Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana
4 Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Tinkoff Credit System
5 Dionisio Galparsoro Martinez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
6 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
7 Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Liquigas
8 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2r Prévoyance
9 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Ceramica Panaria – Navigare
10 David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne all same time
97 Charles Wegelius (GBr) Liquigas at 4-19
132 Steve Cummings (GBr) Discovery Channel at s.t
1 Marco Pinotti (Ita) T-Mobile Team 34-48-34
2 Andrea Noe’ (Ita) Liquigas at 0.28
3 Serguei Yakovlev (Kaz) Astana 0.54
4 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre – Fondital 1.06
5 Francisco Javier Vila Errandonea (Spa) Lampre – Fondital 1.10
6 José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa) Discovery Channel 1.36
7 David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 1.43
8 Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Tinkoff Credit System 1.51
9 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Predictor – Lotto 2.13
10 Alexandr Arekeev (Rus) Acqua & Sapone – Caffe Mokambo 2.17
53 Charles Wegelius (GBr) Liquigas 7.21
109 Steve Cummings (GBr) Discovery Channnel 21.00