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Giro d'Italia 2010: Stage 10

Welcome again to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 2010 Giro d'Italia. We're on stage 10 today, a 230km journey from Avellino - Bitonto. The route for today's stage sees the riders carry out a traverse from the west to east coasts of Italy, finishing just above the 'heel' of the country's boot-shaped peninsula. More rain again today, but with a downhill run into Bitonto, the sprinters' teams appear to have another shot at glory.

83km remaining from 230km

Let's kick off with a situation report. Three teams are represented in a three-man break, which moved away an hour and-a-half ago: Ag2R-La Mondiale, Quick Step and Omega Pharma-Lotto. Hubert Dupont is on the attack for Ag2R-La Mondiale and Dario Cataldo is carrying Quick Step's hopes.

Now, there's been a little bit of confusion as to the identity of the Omega Pharma-Lotto rider, but it appears Briton Charly Wegelius is the man with the ticket to ride today.

Their advantage stretched up to almost seven minutes at one points, but has stablised at around 5:30,.

We've had reports the rain capes are getting a workout again today, although there was sun at the start line this morning. Currently, it's 12°C as we make our way towards the Adriatic.

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) has looked a little miserable in the rain over the last few days, but it can't take too long to cheer up after these stages when you're wrapped in the maglia rosa.

Here's a re-cap on the general classification top-10 after yesterday's stage:

1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 33:09:43
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:12
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:01:33
4 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:01:51
5 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team HTC - Columbia 0:02:17
6 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Saxo Bank 0:02:26
7 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha 0:02:34
8 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone 0:02:47
9 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 0:03:08
10 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli 0:03:09

We don't expect that list to get too much of a shake-up today. There's only one categorised climb on the stage, the Category 3 Valico dell'Imbandina. The three leaders are on the slopes of the 10km climb at the moment. It tops out at a gradient of 9 per cent, but at an average of 3.8 it should't pose too much of a challenge.

Three sprints today (including the finish line in Bitonto). The intermediate primes come at Lavello (118.9km) and Molfetta (210.7km)

One would expect Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) to hold onto the red points jersey today. He re-claimed that tunic from Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) yesterday and with a sprint expected at the finish, he ought to maintain or extend his lead over the Australian:

Points classification standings after stage nine:

1 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Transitions 59 pts
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 52
3 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Team HTC - Columbia 47
4 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 47
5 Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quick Step 46
6 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank 42
7 Jerome Pineau (Fra) Quick Step 39
8 Robert Forster (Ger) Team Milram 35
9 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha 32
10 Gregory Henderson (NZl) Sky Professional Cycling Team 32

Wegelius leads the trio over the summit of the climb, absorbing maximum points. Dupont and Cataldo second and third, respectively.

None pose a real threat to Matthew Lloyd's hold on the green climbers jersey, but he'll no doubt be pleased to recieve word of his Omega Pharma-Lotto teammate nabbing the three points through his earpiece.

Mountains Classification after stage nine:

1 Matthew Lloyd (Aus) Omega Pharma-Lotto 16 pts
2 Chris Sorensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank 15
3 Paul Voss (Ger) Team Milram 10
4 Simone Stortoni (Ita) Colnago-CSF Inox 10
5 Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Androni Giocattoli 8
6 Xavier Tondo Volpini (Spa) Cervelo Test Team 6
7 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 5
8 Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Colnago-CSF Inox 5
9 Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Team Katusha 5
10 Rick Flens (Ned) Rabobank 4

Another Australian is in charge of the white jersey. Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) couldn't have asked for a better start to his first Grand Tour and has held his own on the overall GC so far. He's sixth behind Vinokourov in the race for pink, but is leading Robert Kiserlovski (Liquigas-Doimo) in the under-25 category.

Young riders standings after stage nine:

1 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Saxo Bank 33:12:09
2 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Liquigas-Doimo 0:01:59
3 Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:02:52
4 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank 0:03:39
5 Jan Bakelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:08:49
6 Francis De Greef (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:12:11
7 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quick Step 0:13:56
8 Cayetano Sarmiento (Col) Acqua & Sapone 0:15:20
9 Jackson Rodriguez (Ven) Androni Giocattoli 0:20:48
10 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Caisse d'Epargne 0:32:08

132km remaining from 230km

The peloton appears satisfied with the gap to the leaders. Climbs usually see the main group pull back time on escapees, but the gap has remained constant at around the 4:30 mark. It's currently 4:45.

Dario Cataldo (Quick Step) is the best placed rider in the leading group, but he'd have to 'pull an Oscar Pereiro' to dislodge Vinokourov today. The Italian is 30th, 16:22 down on the maglia rosa.

One rider who feels he might be able to lay claim to the race lead is Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese Vini). The 2004 Giro d'Italia champion told Gazzetta Dello Sport that he feels he can once again be a GC contender. Time will tell.

Cunego's back-flip on his GC ambitions could have an interesting effect on the team's tactics. He's looked the goods to perhaps snatch a stage win in the race, but his teammate, Gilberto Simoni, is likely to be sizing up one of the mountain stages in the final week of his last race as a professional.

We'll find out how deep those two former-rivals have buried the hatchet.

Italian fans won't really care who comes up with an individual stage win. The country has already set a record for the longest dry spell in a Giro.

112km remaining from 230km

The leaders have crossed the halfway point of today's stage. Their advantage has dropped, but not to anything critical at this point in the game: 4:20 the gap.

Incidentally, the Giro will reach its southern-most stage finish today in Bitonto.

Altitude-wise, it won't be the lowest point the entire race, as we ducked down below sea level at points in the Netherlands last week.

105km remaining from 230km

The peloton have just passed through the feed zone at Lavello, having covered 119km of the stage.

The sun is shining at the finish line, so even if the riders have got wet today, its likely they'll dry off by the finish.

Can HTC-Columbia double-up with a second successive win today? Matt Goss broke through for the US team on Monday.

It's been a great couple of days for the entire HTC-Columbia outfit, with Goss' win adding to Mark Cavendish's stage one success at the Tour of California, and Ina Teutenberg's stage win at the Tour de l'Aude, which Adrie Visser continues to lead.

Cyclingnews photographer Wil Matthews was granted some exclusive access to the team at the Tour of California on Monday. Check out the gallery of images here.

Hubert Dupont (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Dario Cataldo (Quick Step) and Charly Wegelius (Omega Pharma-Lotto) are making their way along the long, flat roads that lead to the province of Bari.

Leading the chase behind is a combination of Sky, Garmin and HTC-Columbia, with Cervelo also pitching in.

It's not raining and Vinokourov has a broad grin on his face as his pink kit gets maximum exposure after a couple of days beneath Astana's yellow rain capes.

97km remaining from 230km

The gap is really shifting downwards now. Bradley Wiggins was spotted on the front of the peloton and he's one of the men responsible for reducing the gap to 2:40.

Cadel Evans and Ivan Basso are having a laugh with one another in the bunch. Evans slides further forward and sparks a conversation with compatriot Graham Brown of the Rabobank squad.

Stress-free for the GC contenders today then it seems. But in the team cars its another matter perhaps. Garmin-Transitions supremo Jonathan Vaughters isn't here, but he is driving the team car at the Tour of California. He gave Cyclingnews a light-hearted insight into the concentration required when part of the race convoy.

With 91km-to-go, Wegelius, Dupont and Cataldo are still working well together. Caldato completes 400m turn on the front of the group before handing over to Wegelius.

Gorgeous weather and magnificent scenery as the peloton streams past a field full of red spring blooms. Olive groves stretch almost to the horizon....bella!

87km remaining from 230km

The leaders and the peloton are both bolting along these long roads. Unfortunately for the guys out in front the movements of the helicopter will give a constant reference for the gap between the two. With 87km-to-to, the 2:38 lead isn't much.

The race has averaged around 40km/h today. Anyone who has experienced the joy of riding a bike in Italy learns quickly how the fantastic roads help to keep the momentum going.

No wonder Vinokourov, Evans and Basso have been looking so happy. The sun's out, a contrast with the weather of the past few stages:

Vinokourov (Astana) spoke Gazzetta.it before the start in Avellino: “It was dangerous yesterday with the water and you could have lost some seconds, so that’s why we stayed at the front and out of trouble. I’ve recovered well, the stages are long but at least it’s sunny. Let’s see what happens day-by-day.”

82km remaining from 230km

In the break, the three leaders are still looking pretty relaxed themselves. None appears to be showing too much exhaustion, despite some three-and-a-quarter hours on the attack.

What 'curse of the rainbow jersey'? Cadel Evans has had a new lease on life since winning in Mendrisio last year. He's already won one stage at the Giro this year and had another dig yesterday.

He was in a good mood in Avellino, after trying to win the stage to Cava de Tirreni.

“I just followed Vino. There was a headwind at the finish otherwise I could have won the stage.”

The Ag2R-La Mondiale car comes up to give Dupont some food, support and an update on their situation. This year's Giro is the third of the 29-year-old's seven year career.

We've received reports that a strong wind is blowing in off the sea north of Bitonto - that could split the field on the run into the finish.

Astana have shown their enthusiasm when the field has broken up in recent days. The Kazakhstani squad formed a marriage of convienience with HTC-Columbia in the last 30 kilometres of yesterday's stage. It didn't work out, but Astana are keen to extend their captain's overall advantage before he comes under attack in the brutal final week of this year's Giro.

Marco Pinotti (HTC-Columbia), who is currently fifth overall, talked about the Evans/Vinokourov duel at the Giro:

“This year the Giro is a real battle. Yesterday they marked each other. They’re both strong. The last week perhaps suits Evans more but Vino has a strong team. We’ll perhaps see who is the favourite after the Plan des Corones mountain time trial.”

72km remaining from 230km

A number of the team directors have been reported this to be the first 'quiet' day of the Giro. The break didn't face much resistance getting away and the peloton was content to spend the day recovering.

The sprinters' teams are doing some serious work now, though. The gap has dropped to 1:35 as Dupont gets another update and a water bottle from his team car.

Two Sky riders are installed on the front of the bunch. Antipodeans Greg Henderson and Chris Sutton will be hoping they can add to the three Australian victories at this year's race so far.

68km remaining from 230km

The peloton seems to have taken its collective foot off the gas a little, the gap has pushed back out to two minutes. With 68km-to-go they'll be keen to stave off any counter attacks.

Ah, there's the explanation. Streams of Sky, BMC and Saxo Bank riders are making their way back from the team convoy having re-stocked on bidons and food for their teammates. Richie Porte was out the back too, but he's on his way back to a position at the front.

65km remaining from 230km

The peloton can see the back of the five-car convoy that is following the leaders.

No sign of cross-winds yet, but Quick Step and Ag2R-La Mondiale have moved to the front. They'll be looking to disrupt theHTC-Columbia, Sky and Garmin-Transitions-led chase.

The race is moving through the outskirts of Andria, the fourth-largest municipality in the Apulia region.

60km remaining from 230km

Chris Froome and Dario Cioni of Team Sky are leading the peloton as they continue their pursuit of the three leaders.

The peloton loop beneath their team cars as they take an exit from the road to Bari.

The leaders' pace appears to have quickened as they race through a town lined with spectators.

55km remaining from 230km

That town is a suburb of Andria and HTC-Columbia's Vicente Reynes leads the peloton through the same point 1:25 later.

Sky take over from HTC-Columbia, but Garmin-Transitions are also up at the front, including Giro debutant Jack Bobridge. Bobridge is currently last on GC, 1:38:12 behind Vinokourov. It's no longer awarded, but in Giros past Bobridge would have worn the maglia nera (black jersey).

51km remaining from 230km

Liquigas-Doimo are now having a sniff around the front of the peloton. The gap to the leaders has dropped to 1:08 with 50km-to-go, so everything is under control so far as the peloton is concerned.

Vinokourov and his Astana cohorts haven't shifted from a position in the first 25 riders all day.

In the break, Wegelius takes a glance backwards. He is greeted with a good view of the front of the peloton, 1:10 behind them.

48km remaining from 230km

The leaders certainly haven't given up. They eke out another 10 seconds, pushing their lead back out to 1:20.

The field is racing along a smooth black stretch of road. On an adjacent road a local rider is out training and recognises one of his mates in the bunch. He doesn't have too much trouble holding conversation at 45km/h before turning off.

The peloton comes to a standstill after a crash. A couple of riders' front wheels slid away on a corner at the front left hand side of the bunch.

Martin Pedersen (Footon-Servetto) was the only rider not to get going immediately.

The crash happened right in front of Cadel Evans, but the World Champion managed to avoid the chaos.

Pedersen is back on his bike and chasing back to the peloton now, which has resumed the chase under the guidance of HTC-Columbia.

40km remaining from 230km

With 40km-to-go, the three leaders have really started to work now. They may have got word of the crash and are pressing their advantage as much as possible.

38km remaining from 230km

The peloton follow the leaders through the 40-to-go marker at 1:35, so the crash clearly disrupted their momentum. The difference had been close to a minute prior to that incident.

We've got Sky, HTC-Columbia and Garmin-Transitions still at the front, but it's the guys not visible who are likely to decide the race in 36km time. Greg Henderson, Andre Greipel and Tyler Farrar haven't been seen for most of the day. Can Greipel break his Giro duck today?

The leaders and peloton are both in the town of Terlizzi, and both groups are flying.

A couple of Androni-Gocattoli riders have dropped back. The reason quickly becomes apparent as Michele Scarponi jumps on his teammates' wheels after a puncture.

30km remaining from 230km

The Androni boys are making their way through the convoy, they'll make it back. It's quite an impressive sight though - every single member of the team is there, save for their sprinter Alberto Loddo.

They're back in the bunch now.

28km remaining from 230km

The leaders are followed beneath the 30-to-go banner now. They're doing a fantastic job out front because they've still got 1:28 in hand.

The sprinters' teams should still have this under control, but they'll have to get a wriggle on.

26km remaining from 230km

A glimpse at a speedo reveals the pace in the peloton. It's over 60km/h on these smooth italian roads. 1:18 the gap.

Sky and HTC-Columbia are still the most prominent at the head of the peloton, but a plethora of teams are moving their riders forward as the stage enters its final 25km.

22km remaining from 230km

The wind doesn't appear to be playing too much of a role in today's stage. Although, the race is heading for the coast at Molfetta and there's still a direction change (as they turn south) to come.

The leaders will definitely survive to the intermediate sprint in a two kilometres time. There are points on offer down to fourth place, so we might see a sprint from the peloton.

The race is in Molfetta now and thousands of fans have come out to cheer the riders on.

Cataldo takes top points at the sprint, Dupont second, Wegelius third. The Garmin-Transitions-led peloton follows less than 20 seconds later. No sprint from either group, its all for the finish now.

The peloton has the ocean on its left. The speed is still on and riders are starting to drift off the back. Adam Hansen (HTC-Columbia) is leading the chase, not far now - 150m.

The leaders sit up, their day is done.

16km remaining from 230km

Hubert Dupont (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Dario Cataldo (Quick Step) and Charly Wegelius (Omega Pharma-Lotto) are back in the peloton after a 205km break.

15km remaining from 230km

Garmin-Transitions are still leading the peloton. The sprinters' teams cant afford to sit up, a drop in pace now could give the opportunists their chance.

There's another crash in the peloton. Quick Step riders and Sky riders are collecting themselves.

The crash happened the riders entered the shadow of buildings, so perhaps the change in light was a factor in the crash.

No one appears injured and there are a couple of riders swapping bikes or changing wheels.

10km remaining from 230km

All of the stage and GC favourites were clear of danger. It's still a combination of Garmin-Transitions and HTC-Columbia jerseys driving the bunch.

Katusha begin to mass on the opposite side of the road.

9km remaining from 230km

The big sprinters are still keeping a low profile. Tyler Farrar is on the right hand side of the bunch about 10 riders back from the tip of the peloton.

We'll arrive in Bitonto shortly.

7km remaining from 230km

Greg Henderson (Sky) has just reconnected with the peloton. He was obviously caught up in the crash. The Kiwi has a teammates for support as they work their way up the left hand side of the field.

6km remaining from 230km

Reubens Bertogliati (Androni-Giocattoli) pulls over to have a front wheel puncture attended to. He's out of contention for today.

5km remaining from 230km

There's a turn with 250m to go in the stage, so this is building towards yet another dramatic crecendo.

Argh! Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago-CSF Inox) tries to go off the front. With the peloton moving at 60-70km/h brave or foolish?

He's brought back quickly.

Nibali and Basso are on the front of the field!

The Liquigas-Doimo pair are probably just looking to stay out of trouble. The race sweeps left and density of riders at the front of the peloton has been reduced significantly.

Sky, HTC and Garmin have resumed control of proceedings.

Riders are getting spat out of the back under the pressure.

2km remaining from 230km

Filippo Pozzato is fourth wheel, Farrar two wheels back.

David Millar is driving the race for Farrar. The Briton is passed by a line of Quick Step jerseys.

A sharp left hand corner proceeds the final kilometre. Quick Step still leading

Farrar is well placed in third wheel with 500m to go

Garmin are still all over the front. Farrar comes through. Farrar wins!

Tyler Farrar gets his second victory of the 2010 Giro d'Italia.

Matteo Tossato (Quick Step) was the man leading into the final kilometre. There were a few direction changes, but nothing to severe. Julian Dean took over from Tossato and got a gap. Farrar seemed to look at his teammate as if to say 'can you make it?'

The answer seemed pretty clear and Farrar kicked again to hold of Fabio Sabatini (Liquigas-Doimo). Dean locked down third place.

Stage result:

1 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Transitions
2 Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
3 Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin - Transitions
4 Robert McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha
5 Robert Forster (Ger) Team Milram
6 Sebastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
7 Andre Greipel (Ger) Team HTC - Columbia
8 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre-Farnese Vini

Sabatini also finshed second to Farrar when the American won in Utrecht on stage two. A good day for Garmin-Transitions. Farrar will definitely hold onto his red points jersey.

No change at the top end of the general classification.

General Classification after stage 10 (provisional):

1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:12
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:01:33
4 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:01:51
5 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team HTC - Columbia 0:02:17
6 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Saxo Bank 0:02:26
7 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha 0:02:34
8 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone 0:02:47

Thanks for joining us for live coverage of stage 10 of the 2010 Giro d'Italia. Join us again tomorrow for what is bound to be an epic journey from Lucera to L'Aquila. I'll qualify that statement with these numbers: 262km and three categorised climbs. The peloton are in for a tough day no matter now you slice it. It'll be a brave escape for boys in the breakaway. Will they be able to survive? Find out here tomorrow.

If you can't wait that long for more racing action, join us at 11:15 a.m. PDT for Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Tour of California's third stage from San Francisco - Santa Cruz.

Thanks again for joining us and ciao for now!

SITUATION

Stage complete

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