Maxim Belkov wins 9th Giro d'Italia stage after long solo flight; Vincenzo Nibali retains lead

The Associated Press

FLORENCE, Italy - Maxim Belkov of Russia won the ninth stage of the Giro d'Italia on Sunday with a superb solo performance, as Vincenzo Nibali retained the overall lead.

Belkov, who rides for Katusha, won in a time of four hours 31 minutes 31 seconds, beating Carlos Betancur by 44 seconds following a long solo escape on the wet and hilly 170-kilometre ride from San Sepolcro to Florence. Jarlinson Pantano was third, 46 seconds behind Belkov.

The 28-year-old Belkov attacked 50 kilometres from the finish and maintained his advantage for his first Grand Tour stage victory.

Nibali finished 10th on the stage to retain the overall leader's pink jersey.

Defending champion Ryder Hesjedal of Victoria has dropped out of the top 10 and is now more than three minutes behind Nibali.