Matt Lloyd refused to give up when Ivan Basso took over the Giro d’Italia’s green jersey of best climber yesterday. Instead, the Australian of Omega Pharma-Lotto went on the attack immediately today in the final mountain stage from Bormio to Tonale.
With Basso focused on the general classification’s pink jersey, Lloyd had freedom to join an escape group and to gain points. He immediately moved into a four-point lead and secured the jersey by topping the Forola di Livigno climb. At the end of the day, which included the Passo di Gavia (2,618m), he had gained a total of 27 points, enough to finish with 56 points to Basso’s 41.
This will be Lloyd’s first Grand Tour leader’s jersey. Tomorrow’s 2010 Giro finale, a time trial stage in Verona, will simply be a victory lap. He will easily have time to wave to his parents, who flew in from Melbourne, as he ends the 15-kilometre city circuit in the Roman arena.
“I had been saying since the sixth stage, it was going to come down to the classification riders and me,” Lloyd told Cycling Weekly. “It turned into a war, but I knew that today they did not want to spend too much energy.”
Lloyd came to the Giro d’Italia with some ambitions to race for the overall victory, but he lost time in the early stages. However, he was able to win the sixth stage in Marina di Carrara with a solo attack in the last 11 kilometres. The day in the escape also gave him enough points to move into the green jersey.
“It’s incredible because it became a jersey that we were aiming for,” said Omega Pharma sports director, Roberto Damiani.
“Yesterday, Matthew wasn’t his best, but today he really showed his quality. We had to be in the escape. I said to him as the escapes were going, ‘If you have legs, now is the moment.'”
Lloyd is the first Australian to win the green jersey in the Giro d’Italia and he will join two other winning Australians on the podium tomorrow in Verona. Cadel Evans won the red jersey of the points classification and Richie Porte won the white jersey of best young rider.
“Richie is a good young rider, Cadel has always been strong,” continued Lloyd. “Me? I am a pretty relaxed guy, who needs his time and place.”
2010 Giro d’Italia coverage in association with Zipvit