Angelo Zomegnan?s great gamble paid off. Although it?s not the first time in recent years the Giro d?Italia has concluded with a time trial, it is the first time in years the destiny of the pink jersey has hinged on the final day.

The organiser of the Giro d?Italia has been criticised for asking too much of the riders in his race. Long stages, difficult, time-consuming transfers, a ridiculously tough final week, the riders weren?t even allowed the luxury of a ceremonial run into the centre of Milan en masse.

Instead the race is still up for grabs, as are some of the other places in the top ten. However soporific Saturday?s stage was, Friday?s was packed with intrigue and the race finishes on a knife-edge with the time trial to Milan on Sunday.

The last time the race ended with a solo race against the clock, in 2003, Gilberto Simoni already had big lead over Stefano Garzelli going into the final time trial. This time just four seconds separate Alberto Contador and Riccardo Ricco going into the 28.5 kilometre test.

The final two mountain stages were like chalk and cheese. One explosive, in which Ricco sliced a great chunk out of the Spaniard?s advantage, the other not so simply cautious, just a long slog for some very tired men.

Aprica, the last climb of a very difficult Giro, was never going to provide the springboard for Ricco to take the pink jersey because it was not severe enough to put Contador in difficulty.

On paper, Contador has to be the outstanding favourite now. The margin may be tight now but the Astana rider is a much better time triallist on the flat than Ricco.

The 39-kilometre time trial from Pesaro to Urbino on stage ten saw Contador put 1-56 into Ricco.

Although the lure of a possible overall victory in his home tour will give Ricco an extra edge, it?s difficult to see him doing enough to beat Contador.

Ricco will ride out of his skin, no doubt, but if he gets within 20 seconds of Contador on the day he?ll have done a fantastic ride. It?s Contador?s to lose now.

RECENT PRECEDENT

Stage 10

The 39-kilometre time trial to Urbino was draggy and uphill for the second half.

1 Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre) in 56-41

2 Alberto Contador (Astana) at 8sec

16 Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval) at 2-04

Stage 16

Mountain time trial at Plan de Corones

1 Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) in 40-26

4 Alberto Contador (Astana) at 22sec

5 Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval) at 30sec

A BRITISH SHOWDOWN: COULD IT BE WIGGINS V MILLAR IN MILAN?

The pink jersey is up for grabs but the battle for the stage honours may be fought out between two British riders a long way down the overall classification.

Both Bradley Wiggins and David Millar have spoken in recent days of their desire to win the final time trial. Millar even went as far as saying: ?It?s mine.?

Wiggins of High Road is 134th overall and so will be one of the earliest starters, setting off eighth. It will be a shock if he doesn?t set the best time and then he will have to wait to see whether Millar, who stands 95th overall, can better it.

David Millar time trial Giro 2008David Millar in action during the stage 10 TT

After that the men to watch will be former Italian time trial champions Marco Velo, then Marco Pinotti, Christian Vande Velde, Millar?s Slipstream team-mate, Vladimir Gusev of Astana, Evgeni Petrov of Tinkoff and Levi Leipheimer before the top riders overall go.

Millar and Wiggins? biggest challenge will probably come from Marzio Bruseghin ? he?s only won two professional races, both of them time trials in the Giro, including one earlier in this race.

AND A BRITISH RECORD

Barring an unthinkable disaster all six British riders who started this Giro will reach Milan, making it a grand tour record.

Never before have six Brits finished the same grand tour, so count them in as they safely cross the line in Milan ? Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Geraint Thomas, Steve Cummings, David Millar and Charly Wegelius ? and raise a glass to toast their achievements.

THE CLOSEST EVER

In the race?s illustrious history, the Giro d?Italia has been decided by less than a minute no fewer than 15 times.

The closest Giro ever was in 1948 when Fiorenzo Magni beat Ezio Cecchi by just 11 seconds.

11 seconds

Fiorenzo Magni beat Ezio Cecchi in 1948

12 seconds

Eddy Merckx beat Gian Battista Baronchelli in 1974

13 seconds

Fiorenzo Magni beat Fausto Coppi in 1955

19 seconds

Felice Gimondi beat Johan De Muynk in 1976

19 seconds

Gastone Nencini beat Louison Bobet in 1957

28 seconds

Paolo Savoldelli beat Gilberto Simoni in 2005

28 seconds

Jacques Anquetil beat Gastone Nencini in 1960

37 seconds

Costante Girardengo beat Giovanni Brunero in 1923

38 seconds

Giovanni Battaglin beat Tommy Prim in 1981

41 seconds

Fausto Bertoglio beat Fancisco Galdos in 1975

47 seconds

Gino Bartali beat Fausto Coppi in 1946

51 seconds

Learco Guerra beat Francesco Camusso in 1934

52 seconds

Luigi Marchisio beat Luigi Giacobbe in 1930

58 seconds

Miguel Indurain beat Piotr Ugrumov in 1993

59 seconds

Johan De Muynck beat Gian Battista Baronchelli in 1978

GIRO D’ITALIA 2008: STAGE REPORTS

Stage 20: Contador sets up Giro victory

Stage 19: Contador hangs on to race lead

Stage 18: Voigt wins Giro d’Italia ‘Worlds’ stage in Varese

Stage 17: Cav gifts Greipel the stage

Stage 16: Pellizotti wins mountain time trial

Stage 15: Sella strikes again in the mountains

Stage 14: Sella wins first Giro mountains stage

Stage 13: Easy victory for super-fast Cavendish

Stage 12: Bennati gets photo finish verdict over Cavendish

Stage 11: Bertolini wins hilly stage

Stage 10: Bruseghin wins Giro d’Italia time trial

Stage nine: Cavendish misses out in sprint

Stage eight: Ricco wins again

Stage seven: Di Luca, Ricco and Contador gain time on rivals

Stage six: Italians clean up

Stage five: Millar denied by snapped chain

Stage four: Cavendish wins

Stage three: Bennati romps home

Stage two: Ricco wins Giro d’Italia second stage

Stage one TTT: Slipstream wins Giro team time trial

GIRO D’ITALIA 2008: NEWS

Ricco and Di Luca talk tough [stage 19]

Contador, Ricco and Simoni to face off in final Giro d’Italia mountains

Six Brits finish mountain time trial [stage 16]

Cavendish disappointed after missing out in Giro sprint

Can Cavendish win the Giro today? [stage 12]

Aggressive Cummings comes away empty handed [stage six]

Millar speaks out after missing out in Giro [stage five]

Reaction to Cavendish’s Giro stage win

Cav hits back at Pozzato’s snipe

Cavendish: This is my biggest win [stage four]

Millar celebrates Slipstream Giro d’Italia success

Bettini looking for final Giro glory

Astana’s troubled build-up to the Giro

Petacchi banned for Salbutamol positive

Yates and Astana make last minute rush to Giro

GIRO D’ITALIA 2008: PHOTOS

Giro d’Italia 2008: Photo gallery, week three – new photos added daily

Giro d’Italia 2008: Photo gallery, week two

Giro d’Italia 2008: Photo gallery, week one.

GIRO D’ITALIA 2008: FEATURES

Five days to go, what’s in store?

Giro d’Italia 2008: Rest day review (May 27)

Cycling Weekly’s all-time list of British pro winners

Giro d’Italia 2008: Rest day review (May 19)

Rest day 1: How the favourites are doing

Giro Britannia part two: From rule Britannia to cruel Britannia

Tuesday Comment (May 13): Why Cavendish is a bona fide world-class star

Giro Britannia: how the Brits are doing in Italy

Giro d’Italia 2008 preview

Giro d’Italia 2008: who will win?

Giro d’Italia 2008: The British are coming

Giro d’Italia on Eurosport: TV schedule