Menchov overpowers Di Luca and Leipheimer
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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Menchov overpowers Di Luca and Leipheimer

by Steve Jones at 5:06 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Race Reports and Results

Danilo Di Luca set out on today's time trial from Sestri Levante to Riomaggiore with a goal of finishing within 40 seconds of his main rivals and retaining his Maglia Rosa, but Russian Denis Menchov (Rabobank) had other ideas as he put in an incredible ride taking his second stage win and the Maglia Rosa for his efforts. Levi Leipheimer (Astana) came in strong with second place just 20 seconds off the pace, and Stefano Garzelli also had a great day finishing third.

With a 60.6km undulating course and technical descents the preferred choice of the day was a road bike with aero bars. But unlike the other favorites, Di Luca decided to leave his aero bars on the team bus possibly costing him the 34 seconds he needed to keep pink.

The biggest surprises of the day were from the Team Columbia - High Road camp were their general classification hopefulls Thomas Lovkvist and Michael Rogers. Rogers came in 2:46 behind Menchov and Lovkvist lost over 5 minutes.

Liquigas had a good day with Franco Pellizotti besting team leader Ivan Basso and moving himself into fourth overall. Basso finished just out of the top ten a second over Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam).

Lance Armstrong (Astana) put in a solid time coming in thirteenth place just outside of Basso and Sastre.

When the GC contenders hit the road, Menchov clocked the fastest time at the first check. By the time Di Luca arrived he had already conceded more than 40 seconds to the Russian, plenty of motivation to push harder and try to get some time back with his amazing descending skills.

In the end, everyone was waiting for time checks at the top of the third climb of the day, the Passo del Termine. It was the critical point in the race and would give the first solid indication of how the riders were going to finish. Leipheimer and Menchov looked strong on the climb, as Di Luca looked a bit more labored. After cresting the top, Di Luca honored his Maglia Rosa by forcing the pace on the descent taking risks and minimizing his losses over the time trial specialists.

Tomorrow the race will travel from Lido di Camaiore to Firenze (Florence), the adopted home of Team Columbia sprinter Mark Cavendish. The stage should end in a sprint and if it does, will be a battle between Cavendish and Petacchi for the stage honors. Petacchi is the only sprinter that has proven he can beat Cavendish this Giro, but with no help from his team he's lost the last two.

1. Denis Menchov (RUS/RAB) 1hr 34min 29sec
2. Levi Leipheimer (USA/AST) at 20sec
3. Stefano Garzelli (ITA/ASA) at 1min 03sec
4. Janez Brajkovic (SLO/AST) at 1:14
5. Franco Pellizotti (ITA/LIQ) 1:27
6. Danilo Di Luca (ITA/LPR) 1:54
7. Bradley Wiggins (GBR/GRM) 1:59
8. Gabriele Bosisio (ITA/LPR) 2:04
9. Jose Serpa (COL/SDA) 2:13
10. Marzio Bruseghin (ITA/LAM) 2:17
11. Ivan Basso (ITA/LIQ) 2:17
12. Carlos Sastre (ESP/CTT) 2:18
13. Lance Armstrong (USA/AST) 2:26
14. Michael Rogers (AUS/THR) 2:46
15. Giovanni Visconti (ITA/ISD) 2:48

Overall standings:
1. Denis Menchov (RUS/RAB) 50hr 27min 17sec
2. Danilo Di Luca (ITA/LPR) at 34sec
3. Levi Leipheimer (USA/AST) 40
4. Franco Pellizotti (ITA/LIQ) at 2min 00sec
5. Carlos Sastre (ESP/CTT) 2:52
6. Michael Rogers (AUS/THR) 2:59
7. Ivan Basso (ITA/LIQ) 3:00
8. Gilberto Simoni (ITA/SDA) 4:38
9. Marzio Bruseghin (ITA/LAM) 5:26
10. Thomas Lovkvist (SWE/THR) 5:53
11. David Arroyo (ESP/GCE) 5:55
12. Lance Armstrong (USA/AST) 6:34


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