Danilo Di Luca laid down the gauntlet to the time triallists by winning the long, albeit watered down, mountain stage in the Giro d?Italia.
Thursday?s 61-kilometre time trial is a not only long, but it?s hilly, and although it may not play directly into the hands of the likes of Denis Menchov, Michael Rogers, Ivan Basso and Levi Leipheimer, Di Luca knows he will be at a disadvantage.
So the LPR Brakes rider, who held a slender lead over Columbia?s Thomas Lovkvist and Rogers this morning, seized his moment to attack three kilometres out to win his second stage, gain ten more seconds and also add the time bonus.
Overall, the 2007 Giro champion now leads Denis Menchov by one minute and 20 seconds. The day?s big loser was Lovkvist, who slipped down the general classification.
This 10th stage was supposed to offer a taste of the Fausto Coppi era. Originally the Maddalena, Col de Vars and Col d?Izoard had been on the menu but the organisers changed the route to avoid France. The official reasons given were that there was snow, or landslides, or that there would be a clash between French and Italian radio frequencies, which would play havoc with the race communications. But the announcement was made at the time when Lance Armstrong was having his difficulty with the French anti-doping agency.
What remained was still a very long stage, with two major climbs, the Moncenisio and Sestriere, followed by the smaller, but steep Pra Martino towards the end.
It was a long day of attrition, with the only meaningful action coming in the final 15 kilometres. Before that Stefano Garzelli had been on the attack, but he was caught and passed first by Franco Pellizotti and then by the other overall favourites, on Pra Martino.
Di Luca waited until three kilometres to go before launching his attack to win in pink and extend his overall advantage.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone) attacked on the first major climb of the day, the Moncenisio, and quickly gained a healthy lead. For a short time he was joined by a number of other riders, but as the climbs came, he stretched out on his own again.
Behind a brace of ISD riders, Andriy Grivko and Giovanni Visconti, gave chase. On the climb of Sestriere, another group containing Dario David Cioni (ISD), Jose Serpa (Serramenti), Felix Cardenas (Barloworld) and Britain?s Charly Wegelius (Silence-Lotto).
Garzelli crossed the top of Sestriere with a two-minute lead, and enough points to take the green king of the mountains jersey by rights from Danilo Di Luca.
With 25 kilometres to go, the four chasers were caught, and up ahead the two ISD riders, Grivko and Visconti, joined Garzelli. Grivko was quickly dropped as soon as they reached the Pra Martino climb. Visconti and Garzelli?s time in front was coming to an end.
Near the top, Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) counter-attacked from the bunch of favourites, which had shed Michael Rogers and Thomas Lovkvist (Columbia-Highroad) and Lance Armstrong (Astana).
Pellizotti was caught on the descent, and then, with three kilometres to go, Di Luca attacked alone to stamp his authority on the race.
It was LPR?s fourth stage win of the race, and stretched Di Luca?s spell in pink to seven days.
Whether he can defend it in the time trial on Thursday is another matter, but the way Di Luca is climbing and attacking at the opportune moments, he will still be a factor when the mountains resume.
THE GIRO STAGES SO FAR
2. Alessandro Petacchi (LPR Brakes)
3. Alessandro Petacchi (LPR Brakes)
4. Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes)
5. Denis Menchov (Rabobank)
6. Michele Scarponi (Serramenti)
7. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia)
8. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Columbia)
9. Mark Cavendish (Columbia)
10. Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes)
Stage 10: Cuneo ? Pinerolo, 262km
1. Danilo Di Luca (Italy) LPR Brakes
2. Franco Pellizotti (Italy) Liquigas at 10sec
3. Denis Menchov (Russia) Rabobank
4. Carlos Sastre (Spain) Cervélo
5. David Arroyo (Spain) Caisse d?Epargne
6. Juan Mauricio Soler (Colombia) Barloworld
7. Ivan Basso (Italy) Liquigas
8. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana
9. Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela) Serramenti
10. Michael Rogers (Australia) Columbia-Highroad
13. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana at 29sec
45. Christopher Froome (GB) Barloworld at 3-29
88. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 12-34
93. Charly Wegelius (GB) Silence-Lotto at 16-54
101. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Cervelo at 24-49
102. Ben Swift (GB) Katusha at 24-49
122. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 26-06
136. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-Highroad at 35-12
171. Ian Stannard (GB) ISD at 35-12
186. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervelo at 35-12
Overall classification after stage 10
1. Danilo Di Luca (Italy) LPR Brakes
2. Denis Menchov (Russia) Rabobank at 1-20
3. Michael Rogers (Australia) Columbia-Highroad at 1-33
4. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana at 1-40
5. Franco Pellizotti (Italy) Liquigas at 1-53
6. Carlos Sastre (Spain) Cervelo at 1-54
7. Ivan Basso (Italy) Liquigas at 2-03
8. Thomas Lovkvist (Sweden) Columbia-Highroad at 2-12
9. David Arroyo (Spain) Caisse d’Epargne at 2-35
10. Gilberto Simoni (Italy) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni at 2-58
18. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana at 5-28
31. Christopher Froome (GB) Barloworld at 9-49
42. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 17-39
69. Charly Wegelius (GB) Silence-Lotto at 43-28
116. Ben Swift (GB) Katusha at 1-19-51
121. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 1-23-45
135. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Cervelo at 1-35-00
160. Ian Stannard (GB) ISD at 1-47-47
161. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-Highroad at 1-47-59
183. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervelo at 1-57-44
Stefano Garzelli’s lone attack saw him scoop up more mountains points
See that, you’re going up there in a minute
Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer and Yaroslav Popovych
Danilo Di Luca launches the attack that would see him win the stage and increase his lead in the overall standing
Di Luca does it – another win for the man in pink
|Find the pink jersey competition|
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There’s no jersey for today’s Giro stage – the competition resumes tomorrow!
|Giro d’Italia 2009 links|
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
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Stage seven photo gallery
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Stage one photo gallery
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From rule Britannia to cruel Britannia
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