Cadel Evans conquers Tuscan mud, Vinokourov back in pink

Cadel Evans wins, Giro d'Italia 2010, stage 7

There were no clouds of white dust to engulf the riders as they hit the strade bianche, the Tuscan farm tracks, today. Instead, the rain bound the dust together to form a slick, slippery mess that covered the riders in a film of brown slime.

The mud masks worn by the riders as they arrived at Montalcino after five hours of racing partly hid the pain of a brutal day that turned the Giro d'Italia on its head. Angelo Zomegnan, the race organiser, no doubt hoped for drama when he included two off-road sections, adding up to 19.5 kilometres, towards the end of the stage. But even he could not have predicted the damage it would do.

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Sports journalist Lionel Birnie has written professionally for Sunday Times, Procycling and of course Cycling Weekly. He is also an author, publisher, and co-founder of The Cycling Podcast. His first experience covering the Tour de France came in 1999, and he has presented The Cycling Podcast with Richard Moore and Daniel Friebe since 2013. He founded Peloton Publishing in 2010 and has ghostwritten and published the autobiography of Sean Kelly, as well as a number of other sports icons.