Stage 9: Cipollini captures second stage win, Frigo retains pink jersey

ROVIGO, Italy (AP) Mario Cipollini, of the Saeco team, outsprinted Danilo Hondo of the German Telekom and the main group in Monday's ninth stage of the Giro d'Italia to clinch his second leg victory in four days.

The 34-year-old Italian sprinter, nicknamed ``SuperMario'' by his fans, passed Hondo in the last 50 meters to collect his 32nd career win in Giro stages.

Cipollini is now nine stage wins short of the all-time record of late Italian great Alfredo Binda.

Italy's Dario Frigo, who finished in the main group, retained the pink jersey of overall leader and a thin advantage of three seconds over Portuguese runnerup Jose Azevedo.

Third-place Abraham Olano of Spain was 14 seconds behind Frigo in the standings.

Olympic champion Jan Ullrich and Telekom teammate Kai Hundertmark made the pace in the final kilometers to take Hondo in the best position for the sprint.

Hondo, winner of consecutive Giro stages last week, rushed into the lead with 300 meters left but could not withstand the powerful comeback of Cipollini, who won with appearent ease.

Other top finishers were slowed down by a fall of Endrio Leoni at the corner preceding the final straight and the finish line on a cobbled road.

The winner completed the 142-kilometer (88-mile) flat course from Reggio Emilia to Rovigo, in northeast Italy, in three hours, 27 minutes, 41 seconds.

Slovenian Andrej Hauptman of Tacconi Sport placed third.

``Hondo tried to fight off my comeback taking me gently toward the iron barriers (along the final straight). I was lucky to find room to pass him and win,'' Cipollini said.

``I am satisfied with two stage wins, but I'm looking forward to some more chances by the end of the Giro,'' he added.

Cipollini, who was denied a spot in the Tour of France along with Italy's No.1 Marco Pantani, said he still hoped to have French organizers changing their mind by the start of the summer race.

``Otherwise I'll enjoy a forced vacation,'' Cipollini said.

Stage 9: 142K run between Reggio Emilia and Rovigo:

1. Mario Cipollini (Ita) 3hr 27min 41sec
2. Danilo Hondo (Ger) same time
3. Andrej Hauptman (Slo) s.t.
4. Alberto Ongarato (Ita) s.t.
5. Guido Trenti (USA) s.t.
6. Zoren Klemencic (Slo) s.t.
7. Ivan Quaranta (Ita) s.t.
8. Dimitri Konyshev (Rus) s.t.
9. Massimo Strazzer (Ita) s.t.
10. Matteo Tosatto (Ita) s.t.
11. Abraham Olano (Spa) s.t.
12. Michele Gobbi (Ita) s. t.
13. Stefano Casagranda (Ita) s.t.
14. Davide Casarotto (Ita) s.t.
15. Alexis Rodriguez (Spa) s.t.

Selected riders

23. Dario Frigo (Ita) s.t.
29. Marco Pantani (Ita) s.t.
50. Davide Rebellin (Ita) s.t.
67. Jan Ullrich (Ger) s.t.
79. Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) s.t.

General classification

1. Dario Frigo (Ita) 42hr 14min 55sec
2. Jose Azevedo (Por) at 03sec
3. Abraham Olano (Spa) 14
4. Gilberto Simoni (Ita) 15
5. Wladimir Belli (Ita) 19
6. Jan Hruska (Cze) 30
7. Oscar Camenzind (Swi) 37
8. Andrea Noe (Ita) 44
9. Giuliano Figueras (Ita) 45
10. Unai Osa (Spa) 48
11. Danilo Di Luca (Ita) 48
12. Stefano Garzelli (Ita) 59
13. Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) 59
14. Ivan Gotti (Ita) at 1min 04sec
15. Marco Pantani (Ita) 1:11
16. Hernan Buenahora (Col) 1:15
17. Marco Velo (Ita) 1:17
18. Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita) 1: 27
19. Carlos Contreras (Col) 1:31
20. Manuel Beltran (Spa) 1:37.

Selected riders:

23. Davide Rebellin (Ita) at 1:47
67. Jan Ullrich (Ger) 23:37
121. Mario Cipollini (Ita) 47:00

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