The smile on Thomas Lovkvist?s face said it all when it was announced that he was the new Giro d’Italia leader after stage four. After a difficult couple of days for Team Columbia, they were back in the pink jersey and showing just why they are one of the best teams in professional cycling.

The 25 year-old Swede was there to help Michael Rogers take the pink jersey in the finale but when the Aussie was delayed when Damiano Cunego lost his pedal, Lovkvist made sure he hung on to Di Luca, knowing he could become the new race leader.

?I?ve won other races but to be in the I pink jersey is one of the best moment so far in my career,? he said proudly.

?I?m actually a little but surprised to be pink jersey. I felt good on the climb and was well position in the final kilometre but was working for Mick and trying to keep him in a good position. Then they crashed in front of him and I avoided it and just followed the wheels. It would have been him or me, the important thing was that the team got it.?

FUTURE TOUR CONTENDER
Lovkvist began his professional with the Francaise des Jeux team in 2004. He rode well and won the Circuit Sarthe at just 20 and was groomed as a future Tour de France contender. But Madiot ran out of cash and confidence to keep him when he never quite got the results to back up the expectations. He joined Team Columbia in 2008 and got his career back on track, finishing third in Tirreno-Adriatico and second in the Tour of Germany.

This year he won the Monte Paschi Eroica race on the dirt roads in Tuscany but still hopes to develop into a major Tour contender.

?I progress every year and hopefully this the best year ever and we?ll see when I get to Rome see how far I am,? he said.

?I want to go as far as possible I?m not going to say I can win the Tour de France or the Giro d?Italia but one day I want to be on the podium and one day be a big rider.?

The difference between FDJ and Columbia? We have yellow in the jersey. No, there are some differences: we?re a multi-national team, have a great team spirit and really work together. On top of that there is the work we do to have the best material and we?re trying to make a difference with small details and have new way of thinking. It?s a more modern team.?

?We make mistakes and perhaps should have waited for Cav yesterday. But I was ready to work for Rogers today because I knew he?d help me. It?s about give and take and there?s good spirit in the team.?

Lovkvist leads Danilo Di Luca in the overall classification by just two seconds, with Rogers third at six seconds. Di Luca has predicted big time gaps at the end of the mountain top finish to Alpe di Siusi and time bonuses of 20, 12 and 8 seconds are up for grabs but Lovkvist is confident of keeping the pink jersey.

?We?re not going to give anything away. Di Luca and Garzelli are strong and there?s another uphill finish but we?ll see how my legs are. Everything is possible, I?ll try,? he said.

There are only a handful of Swedish professionals in the peloton but Swedish riders have worn the pink jersey before. Gosta Petterson win the Giro in 1971, Tommy Prim was second in 1981 and 1982, and Bernt Johansson was third in 1979.

Lovkvist looks set to continue the tradition.

Thomas Lovkvist interview>>


Giro d’Italia 2009 links

Stage reports
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 three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one photo gallery

News
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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