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.

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.”

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

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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