Giro d'Italia: Kooij wins ninth stage, Pogacar remains leader


By John

On the seafront of Naples where the stage finish is set for the third consecutive year, after the time trial in Perugia and the Abruzzo climbs characterized by the dominance of the pink Pogacar jersey, the Giro d'Italia finds the festival of sprinters competing for victory in front of a multitude of enthusiasts estimated, in the last kilometres, to be almost one hundred thousand people. A real crowd in front of which he prevails with an extraordinary sprint Olav Kooij of the Visma-Lease a Bike Team who beat the finish line in a comeback Jonathan Milan for which, for the second consecutive year, the victory on the Naples seafront narrowly missed out.

The stage is characterized by two separate parts, with the first 180 kilometres, of the total 214, flat, before a nervous and in some places challenging finish in which the runners face two steep climbs, on the climb of Monte di Procida, Mountain Grand Prix of 4th category and then in the spectacular finale in the city, with the climb from Coroglio to Capo di Posillipo, before the descent that leads to the final three kilometers on the Caracciolo seafront. A good part of the stage is characterized by the escape of the duo Andrea Pietrobon And Mirco Masters (Team Polti Kometa) who took advantage immediately after the start from Avezzano and reached a margin of advantage over the group which reached a maximum of 3'13″ when the riders left Abruzzo and entered the province of Frosinone.

The men of Alpecin-Deceuninck lead the pursuit of the group and the advantage of the leading pair gradually begins to decrease. At the flying points finish line in Mondragone, under which Pietrobon passes in front of Maestri, 132 kilometers after the start, the lead drops to 1'43». Shortly before the finish line Intergiro di Giugliano in Campania, 55 kilometers from the finish line, where Maestri precedes Pierobon, the group suffers a fall in which he is also involved Geraint Thomas which was not damaged and which was quickly brought back to the group by three men from Ineos. As we get closer to the decisive area of ​​the race, characterized by tears and narrowing of the roads, the advantage of the pacesetters progressively decreases. Immediately after the finish line on the mountain of Monte di Procida, where Pierobon passes first, the group, led by Alaphilippe, reaches the fugitives. Costiou and Alaphilippe remain alone in the lead and are joined by the group less than 10 kilometers from the finish.

At the end, on the Coroglio climb, Narvaez breaks away and manages to maintain the lead of the race until 20 meters from the finish line when the reaction of the group and the sprinters becomes impetuous. The pink jersey Pogacar also participates in the sprint who launches his teammate Molano who, however, remains bottled up and is unable to place his starting point. Milan, who probably fears not to catch the Ecuadorian in time, starts too early and the Dutch Kooij with a flick of the back mocks him on the finish line and scores his thirty-third victory as a professional.

Rest day tomorrow. The Giro remains in Campania and will resume on Tuesday with the tenth stage Pompei-Cusano Mutri (Bocca della Selva) of 142 kilometres. After an initial flat stretch you reach the final phase where the road steepens. The last 18 km are characterized by a continuous climb which reaches a gradient of 10 percent in the final nine kilometres, up to the finish line in Bocca della Selva.