Lightweight climber Leonardo Piepoli (pictured) of the Saunier Duval team won the uphill finish to the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Guardia near Genoa on Tuesday as the tough 8.8km climb decisively reshaped the overall standings.
Piepoli attacked halfway up the climb and opened a decisive margin as the overall contenders watched each other before the final charge to the line.
Danilo Di Luca finished second at 18 seconds, with an impressive Andy Schleck (CSC) third at 27 seconds. Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval) was fourth at 32 seconds, his team mate Riccardo Ricco was fifth at 41 seconds and Paolo Savoldelli (Astana) was sixth in the same time. Damiano Cunego (Lampre) was seventh at 43 seconds and Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) was 11th at 52 seconds. The big loser of the day was Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone) who finished at 2-07.
As expected, Marco Pinotti (T-Mobile) suffered on the climb and lost the pink jersey to Andrea Noe (Liquigas), the oldest rider in the Giro at 38. He now leads Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre) by 1-08, with David Arroyo (Caisse d?Epargne) third at 1-15. Di Luca is only eighth overall but leads all the other overall favourites by more than a minute.
Noe was almost in tears as he pulled on the pink jersey. He lead the Giro for a day in 1998 when riding for Asics but has always been a hard working domestique.
?This is like a life-time achievement award after 15 years as a professional,? Noe said.
?I hope to keep it for a couple of days but we?re here to win the Giro with Di Luca and I?m ready to work for him.?
?I?ve got the lead because my Liquigas team won the opening team time trial in Sardinia and then I gained three minutes on stage eight by being in a breakaway. We were hoping to take the jersey and win the stage with Danilo Di Luca, so it wasn?t a perfect day, but it?s a huge personal satisfaction.?
?I wore the pink jersey for a day nine years ago but this time it?s a much more emotional moment because it?s probably the last result I?ll get in my career. I want to dedicate it to my wife and children.?
Noe will wear the pink jersey during Wednesday?s 198km 11th stage from Serravalle Scrivia to Pinerolo near Turin. The flat stage is the last chance for the sprinters before the start of the decisive mountain stages in the Alps and Dolomites. On Thursday the Giro heads into the Alps for the stage over the Col d?Izoard before the finish in Briancon.
Photo of Leonardo Piepoli on stage 10 by Luc Claessen
GIRO D’ITALIA: STAGE NINE RESULTS
1 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval ? Prodir 249km in 6-19-07
2 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas at 18 secs
3 Andy Schleck (Lux) CSC at 27 secs
4 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval ? Prodir at 32 secs
5 Riccardo Ricco (Ita) Saunier Duval ? Prodir at 41 secs
6 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Astana at st
7 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre at 43 secs
8 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas at 45 secs
9 Yaroslav Popvych (Ukr) Discovery Channel at 52 secs
10 Andrea Noe (Ita) Liquigas at st
68 Charles Wegelius (Gbr) Liquigas at 8-58 mins
117 Steve Cummings (Gbr) Discovery Channel at 22-35
OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE NINE
1 Andrea Noe (Ita) Liquigas in 46-06-09
2 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre at 1-08 min
3 David Arroyo (Esp) Caisse d?Epargne at 1-15 min
4 Francisco Vila (Esp) Lampre at 1-38 min
5 Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Tinkoff Credit Systems at 1-48
6 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Panaria at 2-04 min
7 Serguei Yakovlev (Kaz) Astana at 2-06 min
8 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas at 2-58 min
9 Marco Pinotti (Ita) T-Mobile at 3-11 min
10 José Luis Rubiera (Esp) Discovery Channel at 3-22 min
59 Charles Wegelius (Gbr) Liquigas at 14-59 min
118 Stephen Cummings (Gbr) Discovery Channel at 45-44 min