Cycling: Contador takes the lead on Mount Etna

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The Independent Online

Alberto Contador powered to his first stage victory of this year's Giro d'Italia yesterday to take overall control of the race. The Spaniard, the 2008 Giro winner, completed the ninth stage in four hours, 54 minutes and eight seconds after an impressive attack up to the finish on Mount Etna in Sicily.

Jose Rujano, of Androni Giocattoli, came second, three seconds behind Contador, while Acqua & Sappone cyclist Stefano Garzelli finished third, 47 seconds further adrift. The result moved Contador, who put on the pink jersey for the first time, 59 seconds ahead of HTC's Kanstantsin Siutsou in the general standings heading into the first rest day of the race.

With less than seven kilometres to go, Contador went solo, with Lampre's Michele Scarponi going in close pursuit of the Spaniard. But, as Contador increased the tempo, the Italian could not keep up and fell back, leaving Rujano to chase in second place.

The leading pair had a 40-second advantage on the chasing group with less than four kilometres remaining, but Contador shifted into a higher gear to leave Rujano behind.

Tons of ash from the active volcano of Etna had to be cleared from the roads ahead of yesterday's 169-kilometres stage that rose to an altitude of 1,892 metres.