Giro d'Italia: Lloyd earns his win, Vinokourov loses key teammate
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Friday, May 14, 2010

Giro d'Italia: Lloyd earns his win, Vinokourov loses key teammate

by Steve Jones at 9:17 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
Aussie has his day, Vinokourov suffers big loss

For the second day in a row the Giro d’Italia saw a rider earn a stage win the hard way by escaping the grasp of the peloton.  This time it was Omega-Pharma Lotto’s Aussie Matthew Lloyd, who made stage six the biggest win of his career.  The 26 year old showed his promise in 2006 when he finished 3rd in the Baby Giro.  He was brought on board the following year by the Belgian team and now has proven them right by scoring in the big show.

Lloyd’s biggest win prior to today was his victory in the Australian national championships two years ago.  His success comes at a good time for an Omega Pharma-Lotto team that has been shouldered by team leader Philippe Gilbert.  The Belgian went on a streak last fall to win four races in a row, including the Paris-Tours and Giro di Lombardia Classics.  Despite several strong rides this year Gilbert’s only success in 2010 came during the Ardennes Classics at the Amstel Gold Race.  Lloyd has now taken some pressure off the team and the team should see a boost in morale – winning can be contagious.

Today’s stage didn’t have any impact on the overall favorites for pink when you first glance at the results, but if you dig down a little deeper you will see a “DNF” [did not finish] listed next to Astana’s Paolo Tiralongo.  The Italian finished 8th overall in the Vuelta a España last year, and was expected to play an important role for team leader Alexandre Vinokourov in the Giro d’Italia’s final week.  The Kazakh will now be forced to head into the mountains one climber down, which brings on more pressure.

When Tiralongo first hit the pavement he was motionless on the ground, but only came away with minor injuries.  “It's always alarming to see a rider on the ground, but fortunately nothing is broken,” Astana’s director Lorenzo Lapage said after the stage.   “It's a shame because he was well placed in 10th in the overall ranking. He was among the best climbers in the Giro and the one who has the capacity to follow Vino in the mountains, but we're still confident and the team will adapt.”

A weak team has already cost Vinokourov valuable seconds in the team time trial, time he would have hoped to make up in the mountains with help from the Italian.  Adapting with one less lieutenant means that Vinokourov will have to gamble a little bit more in the mountains when it comes to deciding whether or not to follow attacks.  With Tiralongo he would have had a reliable teammate capable of pulling back or even wearing down the the Kazakh’s threats for pink on the climbs.

Tomorrow will see the peloton take in 20 kilometers of strade bianche (gravel roads) on the way from Carrara to Montalcino, with the second of the two 10 kilometer sections being mostly uphill and ending just 8 kilometers from the finish line.  It’s a day for Classics specialists like Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) to shine, but those looking towards the final Maglia Rosa must also be very attentive since a lapse in judgment over the gravel roads could cost them valuable seconds.


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