Movistar's Gorka Izagirre won the first individual Grand Tour stage of his career at the Giro d'Italia on Saturday, as Bob Jungels' lead remained intact at the head of the general classification.
Basque rider Izagirre, who enjoyed success in the team time trial to open the 2014 Vuelta a Espana, but was yet to claim the spotlight all for himself, formed a five-man group to break clear of the peloton late in the 189-kilometre stage from Molfetta, which finished in a tough ascent to Peschici.
The other men with him were Luis Leon Sanchez, Giovanni Visconti, Valerio Conti and Gregor Muhlberger.
Austrian Muhlberger was dropped with 10km to go; the remaining frontrunners trading attacks as the stage neared its gruelling conclusion.
Conti led going into the final 1.5km, but crashed at a tight bend and Visconti faded, with Sanchez chasing but proving unable to reel in Izagirre.
GOOD DAY/BAD DAY
Conti of UAE Team Emirates was left frustrated in his attempts to give Italy a first home victory of this year's Giro, putting in the hard work to lead the breakaway at the right moment, only for his crash to see him swallowed by the main pack.
Jungels could be happy with his day, though, the Luxembourgish Quick-Step rider finishing with the peloton, 12 seconds behind the stage leaders, to retain the maglia rosa.
He did have one near miss though, leaving him with a bloodied knee as a reminder to be more cautious on Sunday.
Jungels was quoted as saying by Cyclingnews: "Everything is all right, it was a stupid crash on the downhill I hit the back wheel of a teammate, I wasn't paying attention. No excuse for tomorrow!"
Gorka Izagirre (Movistar Team) 4:24:59
Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida) 0:00.05
Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana Pro Team) 0:00.10
Enrico Battaglin (Team LottoNl-Jumbo)
Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac)
Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) 38:21:18
Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) 0:00:06
Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) 0:00:10
Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida)
Domenico Pozzovivo (IAG2R La Mondiale)
Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) 191
Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) 160
Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) 129
KING OF THE MOUNTAINS
Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) 44
Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data) 23
Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha Alpecin) 18
Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana Pro Team) 18
Starting at Montenero di Bisaccia, the 149km route of stage nine begins on wide coast roads before heading inland, with an intermediate sprint at Chieti.
The stage concludes with a 13km climb up narrow roads, with several hairpins and gradients as high as 14 per cent.