Giro d'Italia: Team time trial causes shake up
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Giro d'Italia: Team time trial causes shake up

by Steve Jones at 3:46 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
Some overall contenders lose time

Vicenzo NibaliFollowing a well-deserved rest day to recover, the team leaders in the Giro d’Italia came into the stage four team time trial knowing that during the day’s effort they would have less control over their destiny than they might like.  The 32.5 kilometer test took the teams from Savigliano to Cuneo and featured a slight rise all the way to the finish.  Liquigas-Doimo proved best on the non-technical course under sometimes rainy skies, clocking a time of 36 minutes and 37 seconds, which was enough to ride Vicenzo Nibali into the Magila Rosa.

Former race leader Alexandre Vinokourov’s Astana team thinned out along the route and was down to the requisite five riders it takes to stop the clock as they approached Cueno.  The final kilometer was brutal for the Kazakh, but even more agonizing for Slovenian Gorazd Stangelj, who pulled himself inside out as he trailed behind to minimize his leader’s loss.  Vinokourov ended up losing 38 seconds to the Liquigas pair of Nibali and Ivan Basso, but had Stangelj cracked earlier it could have been a lot worse.

World champion Cadel Evans conceded 1 minute and 21 seconds by the time his BMC Racing team reached the finish in Cuneo, while outsider for the overall Michele Scarponi (Androni-Diquigiovanni) was hit the hardest, adding close to two and a half minutes on his deficit to pink.

Nibali, who is 25 years of age, was a late addition to the Italian team’s roster.  Only days before the start, he was tasked to fill in for pre-race favorite Franco Pellizotti when he was pulled from competition for irregularities in his Biological Passport.  It was two years ago, also at the age of 25, when Astana’s Alberto Contador was called up at the last minute to ride the Giro d’Italia.  His team received a last minute invitation to the event, and he went from the beach to Giro d’Italia champion on pure talent.

There is a chance that this year’s race could see the same scenario as 2008, with Nibali’s natural talent putting him on the top step in Verona.  He finished in seventh place overall at the Tour de France last year, and his natural progression should see him ride more strongly in the Grand Tours this year.  The lack of preparation will lessen his chances to usurp Basso and take over as team leader, but he’s a solid time trialist and an even better climber, which puts him in with a legitimate shot.

The last week in the mountains will have much to say in this Giro d’Italia, so those finding themselves behind in the overall will have plenty of opportunity to make up time.  Tomorrow’s stage should be for the sprinters, and HTC-Columbia’s Andre Greipel is still in with a chance for the Maglia Rosa.  He will be highly motivated to bring home a stage win as he looks to prove he deserves to be selected for the Tour de France team.


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