Matthew Lloyd is the King of the Mountain in the Giro d'Italia
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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Matthew Lloyd is the King of the Mountain in the Giro d'Italia

by Bjorn Haake at 4:12 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Takes jersey back from Basso with courageous break on tough Giro day

Matthew LloydMatthew Lloyd clinched the Giro d'Italia's King of the Mountain classification in the last possible moment, after yesterday's final big mountain stage. The Australian has 56 points, 15 points more than his closest rival, Ivan Basso. A maximum of three points are awarded in today's time trial over the final KOM of the race, the categorie 3 Torricelli climb in Verona.

Basso had led the KOM at the beginning of stage 20, with Lloyd in second place. Since Basso was already wearing the pink jersey, Lloyd wore the green jersey and apparently he liked the color. Lloyd slipped into the break of the day, taking advantage of the fact that Basso was keener on keeping his overall shot alive. The Omega Pharma Lotto rider took the first two of the five KOM points, finished second on the third and third on the fourth climb. That gave him a total of 27 points, versus the six that Basso received for his third place finish on the stage.

Lloyd more than made up his six-point deficit at the beginning of stage 20 and the crucial point was the Passo di Gavia, at 2618 meters the highest point of the race. Lloyd and his breakaway companions managed to stay ahead of the Liquigas-led chase. While the Australian could not follow the rapid acceleration of Gilberto Simoni and Johann Tschopp close to the top of the Cima Coppi (a prize for the highest point of each Giro in honor of Fausto Coppi), he went over the top in third.

This gave him 10 crucial points, that sealed the deal, provided he reaches the finish in Verona this afternoon. Riding over the top of the Gavia, with walls of snow on both sides of the road, gave Lloyd an "amazing feeling," he said after the race.

Even if Basso had won the stage, the 15 mountain points wouldn't have been enough for the Italian to take back 'his' jersey at the end of the day. On the other hand, the Lloyd group was only around half a minute ahead of the Basso group at the top. If Lloyd would not have gotten any points, the KOM competition would have been down to the wire. With the same third place result for Basso, Lloyd would have still taken the green jersey (46 vs 41 points, with three points awarded today).

But if Basso had finished in second, he would have had 45 points, just one point shy of the lead. In that case, both riders would have tried to set the best time up the Torricelli, coming 8.5 kilometers into the 15km time trial. If Basso would have won the stage, his tally would have been 50 points (vs the 46 that Lloyd would have had without the 10 Gavia points). In that case, Basso would have also taken the KOM title.

But in the end, Lloyd was strong enough to hold off the challenge and deservedly won the green mountains jersey. He gave his Omega Pharma Lotto team an unexpected good showing in a Grand Tour, including his stage six win in Marina di Carrara. Lloyd thanked his team for the support and called the experience of stage 20 "a very special day."

Lloyd has been mostly a trusted helper in his career, although he has taken a few wins, including the Australian road race championships in 2008. The green jersey is a highlight in the career of Lloyd. Along with fighting for that green jersey, Lloyd proved so competitve that he also leads the overall of the Premio Combattività, for the most aggressive rider. He has 38 points and is ahead of compatriot Cadel Evans (31 points). Jerome Pineau is third with 30 points.

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