Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) surprised the big favourites to win the mountain time trial to the ski resort of Plan de Corones.

He was only fifth on the 7.6km road section but flew up the dirt road second section to set a time of 40-26.

Emanuele Sella (CSF Group) somehow found even more strength and climbing power to finish second at six seconds and Gilberto Simoni (Diquigiovanni) was an impressive third at 17 seconds.

Alberto Contador (Astana) finished fourth at 22 seconds. He now leads Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval) by 41 seconds. Simoni moved up to third at 1-21 and Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre) is fourth at 2-00. Pellizotti moved up to fifth at 2-05.

Ricco was not on a great day and finished fifth at 30 seconds. Danilo Di Luca (LPR) was the big loser of the stage. He was ninth at 1-45. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) was tenth, losing 1-49.

?My objective was to keep the pink jersey and perhaps gain a few seconds, so I?m happy with the result,? Contador said in the after race press conference at the summit of Plan de Corones.

?I went to see the course this morning and rode up the final dirt section. I?m glad I did because it made me realise I needed a bigger gear. I used a 34×30 and I think it helped me keep the pink jersey because my back wheel was slipping on the steepest parts of the climb.?

?It was a very, very difficult climb. It was a new experience and very interesting. I couldn?t stand on the pedals because there was so little traction on my back wheel and so had to stay sat down. I?ve never felt that before. Of course I?ll ride whatever they throw at me.?

“I think I passed the test today. Denis Menchov, Marzio Bruseghin and Danilo Di Luca have lost some time but the other time gaps were minimal. There are probably now five or six riders who can win the Giro. Ricco has confirmed that he?s very strong and he and Gilberto Simoni are my main rivals.?

Despite only knowing he would ride the Giro a week before the start in Palermo, Contador is confident for the final decisive stage at the weekend. He knows his rivals are starting to race againist each for places on the podium and knows that he can pull back some time on Ricco and Simoni in the final time trial stage to Milan on Sunday.

?The most difficult moment for me was the start and the last three stages we?ve done in the Dolomites,? he said.

?My form is improving or at least staying the same, so I don?t think my rivals can hurt me that much.?

BRITISH RIDERS LIVE TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY

All six of the British riders in the Giro d’Italia finished the 12.9km on the brutally-steep climb to Plan de Corones.

Mark Cavendish (High Road) finished in a time of 48-59, Bradley Wiggins (High Road) set 47-09, Geraint Thomas (Barloworld) set 46-46, David Millar (Slipstream) set 46-48 and Steve Cummings, (Barloworld) set 45-27.

Charly Wegelius (Liquigas) was the fastest of the Brits. He rode the steep course in 44-14. He was 34th in the final results. You can read more about the Brits on stage 16 here, with photos.

GIRO D?ITALIA 2008 STAGE 16 ITT: RESULTS

1. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas 12.9km in 40min 26secs

2. Emanuele Sella (Ita) CSF Navigare at 6secs

3. Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Diquigiovanni?Androni at 17secs

4. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana at 22secs

5. Riccardo Ricco (Ita) Saunier Duval at 30secs

6. Jose Rujano (Ven) Caisse D?Epargne at 49secs

7. Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre at 1min 4secs

8. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) CSF Navigare at 1min 43secs

9. Danilo Di Luca (Ita) LPR at 1min 45secs

10. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 1min 49secs

British

34. Charly Wegelius (GB) Liquigas at 3min 48secs

63. Steve Cummings (GB) Barloworld at 5min 1sec

90. Geraint Thomas (GB) Barloworld at 6min 20secs

91. David Millar (GB) Slipstream at 6min 22secs

99. Bradley Wiggins (GB) High Road at 6min 43secs

131. Mark Cavendish (GB) High Road at 8min 33secs

OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 16

1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana in 68hours 47min 31secs

2. Riccardo Ricco (Ita) Saunier Duval at 41secs

3. Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Diquigiovanni?Androni at 1min 21secs

4. Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre at 2min

5. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas at 2min 5secs

6. Danilo Di Luca (Ita) LPR at 2min 18secs

7. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 2min 47secs

8. Emanuele Sella (Ita) CSF Navigare at 4min 25secs

9. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence-Lotto at 4min 26secs

10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) CSF Navigare at 5min 25secs

British

85. Charly Wegelius (GB) Liquigas at 1hour 39min 52secs

93. David Millar (GB) Slipstream at 1hour 48min 35secs

118. Geraint Thomas (GB) Barloworld at 2hours 14min 14secs

123. Steve Cummings (GB) Barloworld at 2hours 17min 28secs

137. Mark Cavendish (GB) High Road at 2hours 43min 37secs

139. Bradley Wiggins (GB) High Road at 2hours 46min 28secs

imageAlberto Contador

imagePlan de Corones

imageStage winner Franco Pellizotti

All photos by Graham Watson

GIRO D’ITALIA 2008: STAGE REPORTS

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

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 two – new photos added daily

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

GIRO D’ITALIA 2008: FEATURES

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