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.?

Giro d’Italia 2009 links

Stage reports
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

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

Wiggins: ‘I went too hard at the start’ (Stage 12 TT)
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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