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.
Full details of CW's find the pink jersey competition>>
|Giro d'Italia 2009 links|
Stage 20: Gilbert springs late attack to win penultimate stage
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
Swift in final big break of 2009 Giro
Menchov refuses to celebrate Giro success before final time trial
Di Luca accepts Giro defeat
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
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1