Denis Menchov (Rabobank) wins the 100 year old Giro d\'Italia - a summary of the third week
The third and last week of the 100-year old Giro didn't give many surprises and the Russian rider Denis Menchov of the Dutch Rabobank team has managed -despit a fall in the final time trial- to keep his pink jersey until the end. At 31 years old he wins his first Tour of Italy after having won the Vuelta a Espańa two times already: in 2005 and 2007.
A short stage, of only 83 kilometers, with a very difficult final climb of no less than 23.5 kilometers.
Just after the start a group of 10 riders escaped from the pack and managed to stay ahead till the foot of the climb to Blockhaus. Two riders of this group, Thomas Voeckler (photo, BBox Bouygues Telecom) and Felix Cardenas (Barloworld) tried to continue alone, but they didn't count on Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas). In the climb he attacked and continued alone and Lance Armstrong's try to get back on him never really worried him. Indeed, the Italian rider in bright green arrived alone at the finish with no less than 42 seconds on Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone). Danilo di Luca did the climb with Denis Menchov in his wheel but in the last meters of the stage the Russian rider had to let him go ... Di Luca finished one second behind Garzelli while Menchov lost another 5 seconds. Ivan Basso (Liquigas) was number five of this stage at 57 seconds behind the winner of the stage.
Denis Menchov was never really worried about his pink jersey but in total he lost 13 seconds on Danilo di Luca (time difference at the finish + bonus seconds) and the gap after this stage thus was down to 26 seconds. With his stage victory, Franco Pellizotti climbed from the 4th to the 3rd place at 2 minutes behind the Russian rider while Ivan Basso took the 4th place at 3'28". The former number three, Carlos Sastre, fell to the 5th place at 3'30".
This stage went straight south from Sulmona to arrive 182 kilometers further at Benevento. This hilly stage started with the climb of the Piano delle Cinque Miglia which had its top at 20 kilometers from the start, but the rest of the stage was quite flat.
The winner of Tirreno-Adriatico, Michele Scarponi (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni), was the one who won his second stage in this Giro at 29 years old.
A leading group of 25 riders was formed at about 60 kilometers from the start before different breaks brought this group down to 7 riders only. When they arrived together at the finish, the one who had the most energy left after this 120 kilometer break away, won the stage.
This stage first took the riders straight to the south until Salerno before they had to climb the Cava dei Tirrenti and follow the coastline up to Napoli while climbing the Picco Sant'Angelo. At 13 kilometers from the finish they started the final climb of the Vesuvius.
At the presentation of the Giro's route, several riders said that this stage could make the difference in this Giro. In the end, we didn't observe many changes in the general ranking after this stage since Denis Menchov continuously managed to follow Danilo di Luca when he tried to attack: only the 8 bonus seconds the Italian took at the finish could reduce the gap between the two rivals to 18 seconds.
Four days after his stage victory like at Alpe d'Huez in the Tour de France 2008, the Spanish rider Carlos Sastre (photo, Cervélo TestTeam) again showed he really likes stages with a mountain top finish. Once he took back Ivan Basso, the Tour de France 2008 winner, continued alone to win the stage 21 seconds ahead on number two, the winner of the stage two days before, Franco Pellizotti. Danilo di Luca and Denis Menchov arrived 9 seconds later, 5 seconds ahead of number 5, Ivan Basso.
20th stage - Saturday 30 May 2009 - Napoli > Anagni
This stage started with a leading group of 8 riders, including for example the French rider Guillaume Bonnafond (AG2R La Mondiale), behind which the LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini and Silence Lotto teams worked hard to take them back.
Once the whole pack was back together, another leading group of four riders was formed by Anthony Charteau (Caisse d'Épargne), Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre NGC), Marco Pinotti (Columbia High Road) and Bartosz Huzarski (ISD). This leading group was taken back at the foot of the climb and at 1,5 kilometers from the finish Philippe Gilbert (photo, Silence Lotto) decided to attack. He was followed by Thomas Voeckler (BBox Bouygues Telecom) and Yaroslav Popovych (Astana).
Finally, Thomas Voeckler was the only one who was able to follow the Belgian rider but the Silence Lotto rider placed a final attack which allowed him to win the stage, 2 seconds ahead of Thomas Voeckler and 7 seconds ahead of Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone), Allan Davis (Quick Step) and Sébastien Hinault (AG2R La Mondiale).
Denis Menchov managed to take 2 additional seconds on Danilo di Luca by crossing the line of one of the intermediate sprints second. The gap after this stage was thus up to 20 seconds, which was generally thought to be enough to win this Giro and resist to his Italian rival at the final time trial in Rome.
21st stage - Sunday 31 May 2009 - Rome - individual time trial
Today the final stage of this 100-year old Giro took place as an individual time trial in Rome.
In the beautiful scenery of this old city with historical sites such as the Porta Pia, the Piazza del Popolo, the Piazza Venezia and the finish in front of the Coloseum, this stage had good weather conditions for the riders who started first while the others had to resist to the rain! And this rain almost became fatal for the guy in the pink jersey!!
Indeed, in the last kilometer, on brick stones which had become slippery with the rain, Denis Menchov (photo) fell and made a glide of several meters. When he finally came to a halt at a few meters from his bike, the Russian rider didn't take much time to think about anything else than getting back on his bike and he thus ran to his bike which was laying on the ground. The team's mecanic who was in the car behind him also had the right reflex and immediately took a reserve bike in order not to take any risk with the bike with which the rider in pink fell. Faster than a pit stop in Formula 1, Menchov got back on his bike to make sure he got the victory of this 92nd Tour of Italy! At the third intermediate timing point, the Russian rider was 32 seconds ahead of his rival Danilo di Luca but this fall made him loose some precious tiime. He indeed was afraid he wouldn't get the final win and it was only once he crossed the finish line that the happiness he had inside exploded!!
A rider who started when it was not raining yet, Ignatas Konovalovas (Cervélo TestTeam) finally won this stage by finishing the 14,4 kilometers in 18'42", with an average speed of 46,203 km/h.
A time trial specialist, Bradley Wiggins (photo, Garmin Slipstream), finish second at one second and the Norvegian champion (I love his short!!) (Columbia High Road) took the third place at 7 seconds, ahead of Yaroslav Popovych (Astana) at 11 seconds and Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre NGC) who finished 16 seconds behind the lituanien winner.
Denis Menchov finally took the 10th place at 24 seconds behind the winner and 21 seconds ahead of Danilo di Luca who finished 17th.
The final rankings
The general ranking
The Russian rider of the Rabobank team was really deserved and he wins this Tour of Italy 41 seconds ahead of the rider who did everything he could to attack him during the whole Giro, Danilo di Luca. THe Tour de France 2008 winner finished 4th at 3 minutes and 46 secondes. He showed that we still have to keep his power in mind for the Tour de France 2009.
The ranking of the best young rider Once he took over the white jersey from Thomas Lövkvist (Columbia High Road) the day before the second rest day, the Belgian rider Kevin Seeldrayers managed to keep this jersey of the ranking of the best young rider, the same jersey he already took at Paris-Nice 2009 in March.
1/ Kevin Seeldrayers (Quick Step) - 86h19'26
2/ Francesco Masciarelli (Acqua e Sapone) - +2'55"
3/ Francis de Greef (Silence Lotto) - +17'03"
4/ Thomas Lövkvist (Columbia High Road) - +31'45"
5/ Jackson Rodriguez (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) - +34'37"
The stage victories per team
When we only look at the number of stage wins per team, Columbia High Road still wins with 6 out of 21 stages, especially thanks to the stage wins of the British sprinter Mark Cavendish.
The second team would be the Cervélo TestTeam with 5 stage wins, followed by LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini with 4 stage wins, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni with 3, Rabobank 2 and the Liquigas and Silence Lotto teams with both one stage win. > no comments | shown 4055x
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