Alexandre Vinokourov: 'The Giro started today'
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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Alexandre Vinokourov: 'The Giro started today'

by VeloNation Press at 4:19 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Will fight to hold Maglia Rosa

Alexandre VinokourovAstana leader Alexandre Vinokourov managed to take the overall lead for the second time in this year's Giro d'Italia following a strong performance in stage seven.  The Kazakh finished third, 2 seconds behind the winner Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).  The finale leading into the town of Montalcino featured gravel roads, and the rain made for an epic stage finish.

"Today was a particularly tough," the Maglia Rosa said after the race.  "When we arrived on the unpaved road I was a little surprised because it looked a bit like Paris-Roubaix."

He made the decisive move on the muddy strade bianche that much of the peloton feared: "The attack on the climb went well.  It has been tough for everyone, but I am satisfied.  The team worked well and we took over the pink jersey again."

Just before the race reached the unpaved roads was where Vincenzo Nibali lost his pink jersey.  The Italian was caught up in a crash on the slick roads that also took down his teammates Ivan Basso and best young rider Valerio Agnoli, who also ended up losing his lead.  Also in the pile-up was Cervelo's Carlos Sastre, who lost more than 5 minutes to the race winner.

Vinokourov said he didn't know exactly who went down in the crash that took place with around 30 kilometers remaining.  "I heard that there was a crash that involved Liquigas, but I did not know who exactly was behind us.  After a while when I saw that Nibali did not come back I suspected he was in the crash.”

He was impressed with the world champion today, but expects the final week to decide who will take victory in the Corsa Rosa.  "We can say that the Giro has really started today, Evans has made a great impression and today he showed us that he is in good shape. I think the finish was more suitable to him.  For me, I thought it was very difficult. But all will be decided mainly in the last week.  I am wearing the pink jersey now and we will fight to keep it."

The Astana captain stressed the importance his team will play if he is to win this Giro d'Italia.  He lost a valuable teammate yesterday, but remains optimistic.  "The team is very important if you want to win an important race like the Giro, you can never succeed alone. You must rely on the team.  For example, the crash of Paolo Tiralongo yesterday was a big loss for the team because he was supposed to ride with me into the mountains during the last week.  So today's today emphasizes that we can’t win without the hard work of an entire team. “

Now he will try to recover from his efforts for tomorrow's mountain finish atop the Monte Terminillo.  The last 15 kilometers of the route have an average gradient of 8 percent, and there are plenty of overall contenders that need to claw some time back.
 
"Today was also a difficult stage.  It is most important that I have the legs. We will take it day after day, without any stress," he said.

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