Bradley Wiggins (Garmin) slumped to the ground after finishing seventh in the Cinque Terre Giro d’Italia time trial, asking for water after 90 minutes of total effort.
He had hoped for a place in the top five and perhaps even better. But finishing just five seconds behind Danilo Di Luca (LPR), who was racing to keep the pink jersey, shows how impressive Wiggins? performance really was.
Further proof comes from other results: Wiggins beat Ivan Basso (Liquigas) by 18 seconds, Lance Armstrong (Astana) by 27 seconds and Michael Rogers (Columbia) by 47.
Incredibly, Wiggins had not seen the course and dived into many of the blind corners without knowing what was on the other side. That probably cost him valuable seconds and left him with mixed feeling about his ride.
?My initial feeling was disappointment but I don?t really know why. I don?t know what I expected to do,? he told Cycling Weekly.
?I didn?t really expect to be in this position a few days ago and perhaps later, in hindsight, I won?t be too disappointed with my ride. I?m pretty happy with my effort and I should be happy with a top ten.?
Wiggins put out a balanced performance. He was eighth at the first intermediate time check at the summit of the Passo del Bracco after 18.6km and was sixth after the first descent at 34.5km. Like everybody, he lost time to Menchov on the second climb and was eighth at the third time check at the summit of the Passo del Termine after 44.5km.
At the finish in Riomaggiore after 60.6km and over 90 minutes of all out effort, he finished 1-59 behind Menchov.
?I might have gone a bit too hard at the start but it?s difficult to judge it because it?s such a long effort,? Wiggins told Cycling Weekly.
?I rode both the climbs really well and thought I got it pretty spot in but I felt I lost so much time on the descents. We didn?t do any thing for this reconnaissance wise and I was over cooking corners and under cooking them.?
?The last 10km dragged a bit because it didn?t really go down.?
Wiggins tried to recover from his huge effort in the shade of a van a hundred yards after the finish. He wiped his face with a towel, perhaps trying to wipe away the pain and disappointment, but quickly began to think about the final 14.4km time trial stage around Rome on Sunday May 31.
?I?m looking forward to the last time trial now. That?s more of my thing,? he said with determination.
The truth is that after working hard on his climbing ability, even the longest, hilliest, craziest time trial seen for years, is within Wiggins? reach.
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Stage 12: Menchov storms to Giro TT win and race lead
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