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.
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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
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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
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