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Giro d'Italia stage 20 photo gallery, by Graham Watson>>
Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert won the 20th stage of the Giro d’Italia with a powerful and decisive attack with 1.5 kilometres to go to the finish in Anagni.
But the battle for the final pink jersey will go right to the wire, with Danilo Di Luca now trailing Denis Menchov by 20 seconds going into Sunday's time trial in Rome, after the Russian gained two seconds on his closest rival in an intermediate sprint.
On the final climb, Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) launched a searing attack, and was marked by Yaroslav Popovych (Astana) and Thomas Voeckler (BBOX Bouygues Telecom).
Voeckler got onto Gilbert’s wheel as they went under the kilometre to go banner, but Popovych struggled to get on terms.
Then Gilbert cranked it up again as they started the climb towards the finish line. Sprinting out of the saddle, he pulled away from Voeckler, who stayed seated and tried in vain to close the gap.
Much had been made of the uphill finish, and the possibility of Di Luca winning the stage and taking the time bonus to close the gap on overall leader Menchov.
But as three riders disappeared up the road, Di Luca and Menchov sat in the main bunch and came in together.
However, Menchov actually extended his grip on the pink jersey by two seconds after getting second place to Di Luca’s third at one of the intermediate sprints.
Di Luca missed a trick, allowing Menchov to pinch two crucial seconds and extend his overall lead back to 20. Di Luca’s team-mate won the sprint, but Menchov got second, just ahead of Di Luca.
So the pair go into tomorrow’s final time trial in Rome. Although only 14 kilometres long, the Giro d’Italia is not done and dusted yet.
Menchov is the better time triallist, but the shorter distance will narrow his advantage over Di Luca. And, with rain showers forecast for Rome tomorrow, the city centre course, with its many corners, could become technical.
If it is a test of bike-handling and pure nerve, Di Luca could still have a chance of overhauling the 20-second deficit tomorrow. It will be far from a procession for Menchov.
The early move of the day featured Britain's Ben Swift (Katusha), Felix Cardenas (Barloworld), Anders Lund (Saxo Bank), Francesco De Bonis (Diquigiovanni), Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne), Guillaume Bonnafond (AG2R), Angel Gomez (Fuji) and Robert Forster (Milram), but they were shut down with 48 kilometres to go, as LPR eyed up the final intermediate sprint as an opportunity for Di Luca.
After that, there were a series of moves, the main one being Paolo Tiranlong (Lampre) and Bartosz Hurzarski (ISD), who were joined by Anthony Charteau (Caisse d'Epargne) and Marco Pinotti (Columbia). They were caught on the finishing circuit.
The bunch split up a bit on the run-in to Anagni, as the riders realised that they had all but completed the three-week tour. Lance Armstrong came home in a small group 1-38 down.
Britain's Chris Froome (Barloworld) had another good day, finishing 20th on the stage in the same time as Menchov and Di Luca. Froome is the top placed Brit in the overall classification at 36th.
Stage 20: Napoli – Anagni, 203km
1. Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) Silence-Lotto in 4-30-07
2. Thomas Voeckler (France) BBOX Bouygues Telecom at 2sec
3. Stefano Garzelli (Italy) Acqua & Sapone at 7sec
4. Allan Davis (Australia) Quick Step
5. Sebastien Hinault (France) AG2R
6. Franco Pellizotti (Italy) Liquigas
7. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway) Columbia-Highroad
8. Giovanni Visconti (Italy) ISD
9. Simon Gerrans (Australia) Cervelo
10. Serge Pauwels (Belgium) Cervelo all at same time.
11. Denis Menchov (Russia) Rabobank at 7sec
12. Danilo Di Luca (Italy) LPR Brakes at 7sec
20. Chris Froome (GB) Barloworld at 7sec
64. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana at 1-38
111. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Cervelo at 3-42
113. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervelo at 3-42
141. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 7-55
147. Charly Wegelius (GB) Silence-Lotto at 13-28
153. Ben Swift (GB) Katusha at 13-28
154. Ian Stannard (GB) ISD at 13-28
Overall classification after stage 20
1. Denis Menchov (Russia) Rabobank in 85-44-05
2. Danilo Di Luca (Italy) Liquigas at 20sec
3. Franco Pellizotti (Italy) Liquigas at 1-43
4. Carlos Sastre (Spain) Cervelo at 2-44
5. Ivan Basso (Italy) Liquigas at 3-37
6. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana at 4-59
7. Stefano Garzelli (Italy) Acqua & Sapone at 8-44
8. Michael Rogers (Australia) Columbia-Highroad at 9-36
9. Tadej Valjavec (Slovenia) Ag2r at 10-46
10. Marzio Bruseghin (Italy) Lampre at 11-36
12. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana at 15-04
36. Chris Froome (GB) Barloworld at 1-14-45
73. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 2-20-32
106. Charly Wegelius (GB) Silence-Lotto at 3-07-25
114. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Cervelo at 3-21-34
132. Ben Swift (GB) Katusha at 3-42-06
150. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervelo at 4-07-44
161. Ian Stannard (GB) ISD at 4-18-17
Britain's Ben Swift was part of the day's early break
Denis Menchov: barring disaster, he's got the 2009 race sewn up
Philippe Gilbert takes his first grand tour stage win
|Find the pink jersey competition|
Find the jerseys throughout the Giro and you could win a £400 Parker International voucher.
18 pink jerseys will be hidden around the Cycling Weekly and Parker International websites over the course of the three week race - all you have to do is decipher the clues at the end of the stage reports to find them.
Saturday, May 30. Clue number 17:
Can you name every rider that started the 2008 Tour de France?
Today's jersey is hidden on www.cyclingweekly.com
Full details of CW's find the pink jersey competition>>
|Giro d'Italia 2009 links|
Stage 19: Sastre takes second Giro mountain stage; Menchov safe in pink
Stage 18: Second Giro stage win for Scarponi
Stage 17: Pellizotti wins on Blockhaus, Menchov remains in pink
Giro rest day review (May 26)
Stage 16: Sastre wins stage to Monte Petrano
Stage 15: Bertagnolli gifted stage win by Cervelo mix-up
Stage 14: Gerrans solos to win
Stage 13: Cavendish takes his third Giro win and prepares to head home
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
Di Luca still hoping to snatch Giro lead from Menchov
Wiggins getting ready for final Giro TT
Menchov brushes off boos and doping questions after the Blockhaus
Di Luca promises to fight to the end of the Giro
Garmin at the Giro: And then there were five
Stannard sees Rome after birthday pain
Di Luca out to topple Menchov on the Blockhaus
Bruyneel tips Menchov to win Giro
Giro Britannia: A long, hot slog in Italy
Leipheimer: Lance had to wait for me today (Stage 16)
Millar climbs off and heads home from Giro
Basso discovers he has few friends at the Giro (stage 15)
Froome agonisingly close to stage victory (stage 14)
Cavendish quits the Giro d'Italia
Cheeky Cipo sneaks a ride in the Giro
Cavendish: His most important Giro win yet (stage 13)
Comment: Lance vs the press, some things never change
Menchov's first pink jersey (Stage 12)
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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