Denis Menchov cleaned up in today’s Giro d’Italia time trial, taking the stage victory and the maglia rosa. However, for the quiet and laid back Russian, the real hard work begins now, as he tries to defend his lead in the difficult hilly stages in the Apennines.
?Today was one of the most decisive days of this race. It?s an important step in trying to win,? Menchov said after pulling on his first ever maglia rosa.
?I think that I came here in better form than last year, but today was a great day. It was more or less like I expected, I knew when I am in good conditions, but I?m happy because I am going better and better every day.?
?I expected more or less these differences on Di Luca. I knew he was in good conditions but I was hoping it would possible I could to get some more seconds.?
For Russia and for Horrillo
Menchov is the first Russian to wear the maglia rosa since Pavel Tonkov. He was proud of that anddedicated his success to Rabobank team mate Pedro Horrillo who crashed out of the Giro during stage eight to Bergamo.
?It?s a great satisfaction. My specialty is the big Grand Tour and so to have one of the leader?s jersey is very important for me. I don?t know if I have any special feelings to have it after Tonkov, but certainly for Russia it?s important. I hope it will give Russian cycling some fighting spirit.?
?It?s very nice to be able to dedicate it to him [Horrillo]. We had a nasty scare when he crashed but hopefully Pedro will realize that we?ve won and that we dedicated it to him. I hope that will make him happy.?
?His type of accident always affects you, it was a big shock. he?s important for the team, he?s experienced, he can always finish a grand Tour, he?s an important piece of the team. Thankfully it appears that everything has turned out OK for him and I hope that he can recover as quickly as possible.?
Menchov is strong, but is his team weak
Menchov leads former leader Danilo Di Luca (LPR) by just 34 seconds, with Levi Leipheimer (Astana) third at 40 seconds and then Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) third at 2-00.
The Rabobank team is very weak but Menchov was not scared of coming under attack.
?We have to take it day by day. On the stages that are important, the most important thing is to stay with the favorites, after that we?ll see who has the legs, who has the good sensations. It?s difficult to predict what will happen.?
?It?s always better to be ahead and I have the experience of that. You have to take advantage of every situation and if you want to win this race, you have to look for opportunities. We?re going to be aggressive when the opportunity is appropriate.?
Rivals on the road
Menchov admitted he fears Di Luca the most, but acknowledges that Levi Leipheimer (Astana) has a far stronger team, including a certain Lance Armstrong (Astana) to guide and help him.
?Levi has the experience but perhaps Di Luca is the most dangerous. He?s a rider who can sprint, who looks for bonuses, so perhaps he?s a little bit more dangerous. Of course Lance is very important for Levi, without a doubt. Everyone knows that, including me.?
Stage 12: Menchov storms to Giro TT win and race lead
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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