Thursday’s 60.6km Giro d’Italia stage 12 time trial through the spectacular Cinque Terre coastal area is one of the hardest time trials seen in a major Tour for decades.

The early climbs, the testing descents and long distance mean that the stage will be key in deciding who can – and cannot – win the centenary edition of the Giro.

The battle for the maglia Rosa will be intense, close and nerve-wracking and so will be the fight for stage victory.

Britain’s Bradley Wiggins (Garmin) must be a good outside bet after his strong ride in the mountains so far.

“I’m going to have a really good go. I could go top three or top five,” Wiggins told Cycling Weekly on Tuesday.

“I’ve been thinking about the time trial since even before the rest day. I’m going to have a good shot at it, then pick a day in the last week to go for and then target the final time trial in Rome. I think that’s plenty to worry about for now.”

Lance Armstrong (Astana) cannot be ignored, even if he is ignoring the press and only communicating via Twitter. The 37 year-old Texan has studied the course and is clearly finding some form.

DI LUCA CONFIDENT OF STAYING IN PINK

Italy’s Danilo Di Luca (LPR) is confident that he can keep the pink jersey, especially after his aggressive ride on Tuesday to Pinerolo.

He leads Denis Menchov (Rabobank) by 1-20 and is hoping that will be enough to hold on to his golden fleece. Di Luca is not a great tester but his aggressive style and surprisingly strong form could mean he hangs on by a few seconds.

“It wouldn’t be bad if I was up there with Menchov, Leipheimer and Rogers all close together,” he said.

“It’s okay if I lose the pink jersey but it’s important that I don’t lose more than 40 seconds. There are still four important stages that could decide the Giro.”

WHO WILL WIN?

Predicting the outcome of such a tough and long time trial is difficult. There are at least half a dozen riders who could win, gain enough time to take the pink, gain precious time on their rivals, or equally lose time and drop out of overall contention. The stage will be that decisive and every rider knows it.

Michael Rogers (Columbia) is at 1-33, Levi Leipheimer (Astana) is at 1-40, Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) is at 1-53, Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre (Cervelo) is at 1-54, Ivan Basso (Liquigas) is at 2-03 and best young rider Thomas Lovkvist (Columbia) is at 2-12.

Those placings will be shuffled like a pack of cards at the finish in Riomaggiore and the new classifica will mark the start of the second half of the Giro.


Giro d’Italia 2009 links

Stage reports

Stage 11: Cavendish romps to second Giro stage win

Stage 10: Di Luca lays down the gauntlet

Giro rest day review (May 18)

Stage nine: Cavendish blitzes rivals to win in Milan

Stage eight: Siutsou makes it two in a row for Columbia-Highroad

Stage seven: Boasson Hagen takes treacherous stage

Stage six: Scarponi wins longest stage with big break

Stage five: Menchov wins mountain battle as Di Luca grabs the pink jersey

Stage four: Di Luca denies Soler on the line; Lovkvist takes pink jersey

Stage three: Cavendish loses pink jersey after being caught behind late crash

Stage two: Petacchi denies Cavendish the stage win

Stage one: Cavendish in pink as Columbia prove their point to Garmin

Photo galleries

Stage 11 photo gallery

Stage 10 photo gallery

Stage nine photo gallery

Stage eight photo gallery

Stage seven photo gallery

Stage six photo gallery

Stage five photo gallery

Stage four photo gallery

Stage three photo gallery

Stage two photo gallery

Stage one photo gallery

Desktop wallpaper photos

News

Lance and Levi: Ready for Giro time trial

Cavendish: ‘Today brought back memories of San Remo’ (stage 11)

Is Di Luca trying too hard, too soon?

Wiggins loses time in the Giro (stage 10)

Armstrong and Basso say sorry for Giro protest

How are the Giro favourites doing?

Cavendish says ‘I’m addicted to winning’

Riders stage go-slow protest during Giro stage in Milan

Cavendish cool before Milan sprint

No sympathy for Armstrong from Giro boss

Boasson Hagen celebrates his birthday early

Cavendish overjoyed for Boasson Hagen

Armstrong ‘livid’ at dangerous Giro stage

Astana riders wear faded kit in protest over unpaid wages

Armstrong sees Leipheimer in pink

Giro news round-up: 14 May

Wiggins: ‘I can’t keep smashing away on the climbs’

Wiggins eyes top 20 finish overall

Armstrong after Giro stage 5: ‘That was hard’

Cavendish looking for Giro revenge

Armstrong happy with stage four performance

Lovkvist will fight to keep Giro lead

Giro could be last race for Armstrong’s team

Vande Velde crashes out of Giro

Petacchi claims he didn’t know of Cavendish crash

Cavendish struggles to find consolation in pink jersey

Petacchi: I’ve been working out how to beat Cav

I’m wearing pink on behalf of the team, says Cavendish

Wiggins ready to win Giro team time trial

Friday, May 8: Giro news round-up

Cavendish out to topple Garmin in Giro team time trial

Team time trial start times

Cycling Weekly’s Giro d’Italia top ten prediction

Brits in Venice for Giro presentation

Armstrong overshadows overall favourites at Giro presentation

Armstrong confident of finding new sponsor for Astana

Armstrong working to save Astana team

Wiggins in top form for Giro

Garmin Slipstream kitted out for Giro opener

Dan Lloyd gets late Giro call-up

Armstrong’s special Giro bikes unveiled

Daniel Lloyd overlooked for Giro ride

Cummings and Thomas not selected for Giro d’Italia

Cavendish tests Giro form at Tour of Romandie

David Millar confirms he’s riding in 2009 Giro

Bennati to take on Cavendish in Giro 2009 sprints

2009 Giro d’Italia to start in Venice

Evans and Silence-Lotto disagree on Giro 2009 ride

Armstrong to ride 2009 Giro

Tuttosport reveals 2009 Giro d’Italia route

Dolce & Gabbana design new Giro jersey

2009 Giro d’Italia guide and features

Find the pink jersey competition

Giro d’Italia 2009: The Big Preview

British riders to have led the grand tours

CW’s Giro top ten prediction

Brits in the Giro 2009

Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish

CW Classic: the 1987 Giro d’Italia


2008 Giro d’Italia archive

Giro d’Italia 2008 coverage index – race reports, photos, results

From rule Britannia to cruel Britannia

Giro 2008: The final word on this year’s race

Brits at the 2008 Giro: photo special

Five days to go, what’s in store?

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

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

Giro d’Italia 2008 preview

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