Italian Vincenzo Nibali took the leader's jersey of the Giro d'Italia yesterday after a close fight with Team Sky in the team time trial. Now that the Sicilian has Italy's most prized jersey, he has no plan to let it go.
"My plan," said Nibali, "is to keep the pink jersey as long as possible."
Sky narrowly lost the stage by 13 seconds to its Italian rival. The stage win by Liquigas allowed Nibali to move from fourth overall at five seconds and into the race lead.
Taking the Giro d'Italia's pink jersey was revenge for Nibali, who failed to take a win in the Ardennes Classics in April. He went home to take a well-earned vacation and prepare to be one of Liquigas' captains for the Tour de France, but then a call came.
Liquigas called Nibali to co-lead the Giro d'Italia team with Ivan Basso after the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) stopped Franco Pellizotti due to adverse biological passport readings.
"Having the pink jersey changes very little at the team level. Basso wants this Giro, he trained well and he is in good form.
"Considering the other teams, I think that it is an advantage to have me fight for the classification."
Liquigas' sports director, Stefano Zanatta, plans to take advantage relatively easy stages coming up to keep the pink jersey. If Nibali survives the mountaintop finish of Monte Terminillo Sunday then he could enjoy at least 10 days in the lead, when the race hits the first of the high-mountain stages.
"You can't just leave it on the street and hope to get it later," Zanatta explained.
"The last week is a very hard week and Vincenzo did not prepare specifically for this race like the others. However, he has a certain amount of condition and we will try to keep the pink jersey on his back as long as possible. Ivan Basso is right there with him, so if Vincenzo loses it is important that it remains in Liquigas' hands."
Basso is second overall at 13 second behind Nibali. Former leader Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) is in sixth at 33 seconds and David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) is in ninth at 45 seconds.
The 16.1-kilometre long Monte Terminillo climb rises to 1668 metres and comes at the end of a 189-kilometre stage. It is the first of the mountaintop finishes, the rest come in the third week.
Giro d'Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
2010 Giro d'Italia coverage in association with Zipvit
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