World Champion Cadel Evans considers Italian Ivan Basso favourite number one after today's Giro d'Italia stage up Monte Zoncolan. The two rode away from their competition and back into contention for the overall, with Basso gaining the upper hand by the top.
"If Basso continues like this," said Evans, "he'll be the favourite because his Liquigas team is very strong."
Basso drove the pace higher with six kilometres to race and rode clear with the Australian from team BMC Racing. Evans accelerated twice, but Basso was the one who broke free with 3.7 kilometres. He continued and gained 1-19 on Evans at the summit, 1,730 metres.
"I wouldn't say it was an attack, it's just that he was better than everyone else. He rode his rhythm, everyone else rode their own rhythm, it's just that his rhythm was a little bit faster all the way up the climb," continued Evans.
"I just missed one gear change. I just couldn't get back on his wheel. I don't know if it was a psychological thing, you certainly don't get much of a drafting effect at this speed we ride up there. He was a little bit better than me today, but on a climb like today, it makes all the difference."
Though Evans lost time, he jumped from 10th to fifth overall. Evans and Basso dropped Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo), Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), Michele Scarponi (Androni) and Xavier Tondo (Cervélo TestTeam). They also gained time on important rivals Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam), Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) and race leader, David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne).
"Basso surprised me a bit. We're at a similar level climbing wise, the energy Nibali, Scarponi and myself spent yesterday hurt a little bit today," said Evans.
"Verona is still a long ways off. I've always considered myself 'in the game,' it's the others who discount me."
The final day's time trial in Verona is next Sunday. Arroyo will try to maintain his lead until then, he has 2-35 on Porte, 3-33 on Basso and 4-43 on Evans.
Giro d'Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
2010 Giro d'Italia coverage in association with Zipvit
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