Frontrunner Remco Evenepoel has pulled out of the Giro d’Italia after testing positive for Covid-19.
Belgian Evenepoel, 23, took back the leader’s pink jersey by beating Geraint Thomas by a second in the ninth stage individual time trial.
Great Britain’s Thomas, who is second, will start Tuesday’s stage 10 ahead of Primoz Roglic by two seconds.
Belgian Evenepoel tested positive after a routine test after the stage, Soudal Quick-Step said.
“It is with a heavy heart that I announce that I will be leaving the Giro d’Italia due to Covid-19,” said pre-race favorite Evenepoel.
“My experience here has been very special and I’m looking forward to competing in the next two weeks.
“I am very grateful to the staff and riders who sacrificed so much to prepare for the Giro d’Italia.
“Still proud to walk away with two stage wins and four pink jerseys.”
Evenepoel also won the first stage time trial, but lost the lead in the fourth stage, and he reclaimed Andreas Leknessund’s pink jersey in a second stage victory.
Despite the victory, world road race champion Evenepoel said after the race he struggled in the wind and rain, adding “it wasn’t a top performance”.
He covered the 35km circuit in 41 minutes and 24 seconds, beating Thomas at Cesena.
Thomas’ Ineos Grenadiers teammate and former champion Tao Geoghegan Hart was third, two seconds behind Evenepoel.
Welshman Thomas overtook Slovenia’s Roglic, who was sixth in the overall standings.
Geoghegan Hart, who won the 2020 edition, will start Stage 10 in third, five seconds behind Thomas.
With a rest day on Monday, the race will resume on the 196km hilly route from Scandiano to Viareggio.
Ninth stage results
- Remco Evenepoel (Bel/Soudal Quick-Step) 41 minutes 24 seconds
- Geraint Thomas (British/Ineos Grenadier) +1 sec
- Tao Geoghegan Hart (Great Britain/Ineos Grenadiers) +2 seconds
- Stefan Kung (Sui/Groupama-FDJ) +4 seconds
- Bruno Armirail (Fra/Groupama-FDJ) +8 seconds
- Primoz Roglic (Slo/Jumbo-Visma) +17 seconds
- Thymen Arensman (Ned/Ineos Grenadiers) +24 seconds
- Aleksandr Vlasov (neutral/Bora-Hansgrohe) +30 seconds
- Joao Almeida (By/UAE Team Emirates) +35 seconds
- Damiano Caruso (Italy/Bahrain Victory) +42s
update general taxonomy
- Geraint Thomas (Great Britain/INEOS Grenadiers) 34 hours 34 minutes 27 seconds
- Primoz Roglic (Slo/Jumbo-Visma) +3 seconds
- Tao Geoghegan Hart (British/Ineos Grenadier) +5 seconds
- Joao Almeida (By/UAE Team Emirates) +22secs
- Andreas Leknessund (Nor/Team DSM) at the same time
- Aleksandr Vlasov (neutral/Bora-Hansgrohe) +1 min 3 sec
- Damiano Caruso (Italy/Bahrain Victory) +1:28
- Lennard Kämna (Germany/Bora-Hansgrohe) +1 min 52 sec
- Pavel Sivakov (Fra/Ineos Grenadiers) +2 min 15 sec
- Jay Vine (Australia/UAE Emirates) +2 min 24 sec
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