Giro d'Italia: Basso enters final week as man to beat
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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Giro d'Italia: Basso enters final week as man to beat

by Steve Jones at 5:17 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
Still way too early to make a call

Ivan BassoThe long awaited battle for the maglia rosa of this year’s Giro d’Italia began today on the slopes of Monte Zoncolan.  The first two weeks of the race have also seen time gaps fluctuate between the race favorites, but it is this crucial last week that will test the rider’s ability to dose their efforts over what promises to be an incredible final week in the mountains.

Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) proved strongest on Zoncolan, and was able to put more than a minute on battling world champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), and almost two and a half minutes on former pink jersey Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana).

The Italian climber never looked in difficulty on what is one of the most difficult ascents in the sport.  His smooth seated style sharply contrasted with Evans, who spent a lot of time out of the saddle on his way to the top.  Michele Scarponi (Androni Giocattoli) still kept himself within reach, crossing the line 1 minute and 30 seconds behind his compatriot Basso.

Tomorrow will provide a much needed rest day for the riders in this Giro d’Italia.  Tuesday’s Plan de Corones uphill time trial will see yet another mountaintop finish, only this time the teams will be taken out of the equation.  The 12.9 kilometer effort was last won by Italian Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas-Doimo) in 2008.  He finished the stage in 40 minutes and 26 seconds, with the top twelve finishers on the day all losing less than 2 minutes.

Recovery will be at the top of every overall contender’s list as they go in to what is expected to be the race’s hardest week.  The remaining road stages should prove to be as entertaining as they are difficult to predict.  Each of the riders vying for the overall have shown no signs of up giving up the fight, with six riders currently stretched across 3 minutes.

After today’s ride, Basso will start the week as the man to beat, but an experienced Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) sits less than a minute behind.  The double stage winner from last year’s edition has yet to shine during the race, but could be conserving his energy for some attacking in the days ahead.  Evans, who sits 22 seconds behind the Spaniard, began to show some weakness yesterday on the Monte Grappa, but came back today to put in a solid ride.  Vinokourov, Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) and Scarponi come next in the overall, but it’s doubtful that Nibali will be given any freedom given teammate Basso’s time advantage and leadership position on the team.


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