Denis Menchov has won the 2009 Giro d’Italia today after a nail-biting final individual time trial stage in Rome.
The Russian Rabobank rider clocked 19-06 to come 10th on the twisting 14.4km (8.95 mile) course and secure the overall win. But it wasn’t without a spirited fight by Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes), who threw his bike around Rome in a last ditch attempt to overthrow Menchov’s lead.
At the start of the day, race leader Menchov had a 20 second advantage over his main rival Di Luca. Di Luca – the weaker of the two in time trials – had already conceded defeat at the end of stage 20, but this appeared to be a ruse as he rocketed out of the start house.
Di Luca posted the fastest time of the day at the first checkpoint, perhaps in an attempt to panic Menchov into taking risks. By the second checkpoint, Di Luca had slowed and by the finish he posted 19-27. The gamble looked like it had failed to pay off.
Out on the course, Menchov was posting good times at the intermediate checks and had gained time on Di Luca by the third checkpoint. Then disaster struck – he crashed within the final kilometre, sliding along the road for 20 metres. Thanks to a quick bike change by the Rabobank mechanic in the following car, he quickly remounted, but the clock was ticking.
Di Luca was watching at the finish, sweating for every second passing on the clock. A muddied and torn Menchov composed himself to accelerate to the finish and deny Di Luca the win. It couldn’t have been closer. After 86 hours of racing, Menchov beat his big rival by just 41 seconds.
Ignatas Konovalovas (Cervelo) won the stage after setting the fastest time of 18-42 early in the day. Britain’s Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) finished in second place, just one second behind Konovalovas with 18-43. Only five riders finished under the 19 minute mark.
Bad luck for Wiggins
Bradley Wiggins had targeted this final stage as one he could win and went out at full gas.
Everything seemed to be going to plan, as Wiggins set the fastest times at the second and third checkpoints. Luck wasn’t on his side, as the heavens temporarily opened making the course slippery and slowing the Garmin man’s progress.
Just as Wiggins was approaching the Coliseum, Matthieu Sprick (Bbox-Bouyges Telecom) fell in front of him, slowing him further. By the finish, Wiggins had fallen one agonising second short of the top time set by Lithuanian time trial champion Konovalovas.
With another shower slowing the progress of later riders, Wiggins and Konovalovas’s time stood, but the Briton must be cursing his bad luck after losing the final stage by such a slim margin.
Di Luca: “Menchov deserved to win”
Danilo Di Luca stood in silence as he watched Denis Menchov get back up after his crash, ride to the finish and win the Giro.
“I risked it on the corners on my road bike but I didn’t have the legs in the finale. I can only congratulate Menchov. He deserved to win.”
After crossing the line and sealing victory in the Giro, Menchov punched the air and let out all the adrenaline that must have been pumping through his body after his spill in the final kilometre.
“I’m really happy. This is a the biggest win of my life. I was told that I had 31 seconds and didn’t have to risk it. I just had to bring it home,” he said.
Another controversial stage
If the winding, narrow course wasn’t technical enough, a short rain storm rendered it treacherous. Cobbled sections in particular turned to ice, with several riders slipping on the surface – not least race winner Menchov. Even the tarmac sections were littered with bumps and potholes.
Many riders not in the hunt for stage victory or hoping to improve their overall classification placing took it very easy, some electing to use standard road bikes. After three weeks of racing, it wasn’t worth taking any risks.
For some riders and teams it was the final straw. Astana directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel drove around the course before the start, and even before the effects of rain, he branded it “a joke. Ridiculous”. It’s been a controversial Giro – the other showcase city centre stage, a criterium around Milan, turned into farce as the riders staged a go-slow protest.
Stage 21: Rome individual time trial, 14.4km
1. Ignatas Konovalovas (Lithuania) Cervelo in 18-42
2. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 1sec
3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway) Columbia-Highroad at 7sec
4. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukraine) Astana at 11sec
5. Marzio Bruseghin (Italy) Lampre at 16sec
6. Giovanni Visconti (Italy) ISD at 18sec
7. Dries Devenyns (Belgium) Quick Step at 20sec
8. Maarten Tjallingii (Netherlands) Rabobank at 21sec
9. Stefano Garzelli (Italy) Acqua & Sapone at 23sec
10. Denis Menchov (Russia) Rabobank at 24sec
16. Danilo Di Luca (Italy) LPR Brakes at 45sec
29. Ian Stannard (GB) ISD at 54sec
32. Chris Froome (GB) Barloworld at 1-00
40. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Cervelo at 1-05
53. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana at 1-19
63. Charly Wegelius (GB) Silence-Lotto at 1-24
74. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervelo at 1-32
165. Ben Swift (GB) Katusha at 3-53
Final overall classification
1. Denis Menchov (Russia) Rabobank in 86-03-11
2. Danilo Di Luca (Italy) LPR Brakes at 41sec
3. Franco Pellizotti (Italy) Liquigas at 1-59
4. Carlos Sastre (Spain) Cervelo at 3-46
5. Ivan Basso (Italy) Liquigas at 3-59
6. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana at 5-28
7. Stefano Garzelli (Italy) Acqua & Sapone at 8-43
8. Michael Rogers (Australia) Columbi -Highroad at 10-01
9. Tadej Valjavec (Slovakia) AG2R La Mondiale at 11-13
10. Marzio Bruseghin (Italy) Lampre at 11-28
11. David Arroyo (Spain) Caisse d’Epargne at 12-50
12. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana at 15-59
13. Jose Serpa (Colombia) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni at 16-11
14. Kevin Seeldrayers (Belgium) Quick Step at 16-15
15. Yaroslav Popvych (Ukraine) Astana at 16-15
36. Chris Froome (GB) Barloworld at 1-15-21
71. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 2-20-09
105. Charly Wegelius (GB) Silence-Lotto at 3-08-25
114. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Cervelo at 3-22-15
132. Ben Swift (GB) Katusha at 3-45-35
150. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervelo at 4-08-52
160. Ian Stannard (GB) ISD at 4-18-47
1. Danilo Di Luca (Italy) LPR Brakes
23. Ben Swift (GB) Katusha
1. Stefano Garzelli (Italy) Acqua & Sapone
36. Chris Froome (GB) Barloworld
Best young rider classification
1. Kevin Seeldrayers (Belgium) Quick Step
7. Chris Froome (GB) Barloworld
Bradley Wiggins – second on the stage, just a second away from victory
Ignatas Konovalovas celebrates winning in Rome
Final podium (l-r): Danilo Di Luca (second), Denis Menchov (winner) and Franco Pellizotti (third)
|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.
Sunday, May 31. Clue number 18 – final clue:
Play at speed with these light cromo pedals that look like lollipops
Today’s jersey is hidden on www.parker-international.co.uk
All clues have now been revealed – if you have found all 18 jerseys you must now rearrange the letters to make the name of a classic Giro climb. Then, send in your answer via our competition page. Full details on the competition entry page.
|Giro d’Italia 2009 links|
2009 Giro d’Italia guide and features
2008 Giro d’Italia archive