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92nd Giro d'Italia - Stage 21 ITT Live Coverage Part 1
By Fabio
Date: 5/31/2009
92nd Giro d'Italia - Stage 21 ITT Live Coverage Part 1

92nd Giro d'Italia - Stage 21 ITT Live Coverage Part 1
The final show down, a challenge against the clock between Denis Menchov and Danilo Di Luca... But Levi, Lance, Brad and Rogers could have something to say in front of the Rome Coliseum.

Stage 21: Rome ITT 14.4  km 
© 2009 Gazzetta dello Sport

Welcome to our live coverage of the the final battle of our "Bike Gladiators" as the try to stop the the clock in Rome at the finish in front of the Roman Coliseum. The 14.4 kilometer test is over a twisting route with 23 turns and another chance for the time trial specialists to take some glory.

The last metres and turns, that are going to determine the winner of the Giro del Centenario. Whose name, barring a catastrophe, is going to be ... Denis Menchov. Prior to the final battle, the Russian leads his only dangerous opponent by twenty seconds on GC, and even if it's not the "average" ITT, today's challenge against the clock favors the guy much more than Danilo Di Luca, who at his turn could event pay the price of the efforts he has sustained while trying (in vain) to get rid of his "Russian shadow" all through the race hills.

Today's fight in the nation's capital city is not about the eventual Maglia Rosa jersey only; the last stage honors are also at stake, with the same Menchov, as well as wild bunch of English-speakers (Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rogers, Brad Wiggins and - why not? - perhaps also Lance Armstrong) among the main suspects to end atop the day's ranking.

 Stage21: Rome - Rome ITT 14.4 km  © 2009 Gazzetta dello Sport

We join the stage in progress as over 50 riders have crossed the line already, and the standings are as follows:
1 Stamsnijder Tom Ned Rab 19:28 0:00
2 Krivtsov Yuriy Ukr Alm 19:33 0:05
3 Van Emden Jos Ned Rab 19:35 0:07
4 Stannard Ian Gbr Isd 19:36 0:08
5 Petacchi Alessandro Ita Lpr 19:44 0:16
6 Barry Michael Can Thr 19:46 0:18
7 Ignatiev Mikhail Rus Kat 19:49 0:21
8 De Groot Bram Ned Rab 19:49 0:21
9 Palumbo Giuseppe Ita Asa 19:52 0:24
10 Caccia Diego Ita Bar 19:52 0:24
11 Cesar Veloso Gustavo Esp Xgz 19:55 0:27
12 Pate Danny Usa Grm 19:58 0:30
13 Muller Martin Ger Mrm 20:02 0:34
14 Fernandez Cruz Delio Esp Xgz 20:03 0:35
15 Goss Matthew Harley Aus Sax 20:07 0:39
16 Haedo Juan Jose' Arg Sax 20:09 0:41
17 Hinault Sebastien Fra Alm 20:12 0:44
18 Reda Francesco Ita Qst 20:12 0:44
19 Hunt Jeremy Gbr Ctt 20:14 0:46
20 Dean Julian Nzl Grm 20:19 0:51
21 Zabriskie David Usa Grm 20:22 0:54
22 Chiarini Riccardo Ita Lpr 20:23 0:55
23 Jacobs Pieter Bel Sil 20:24 0:56
24 Davis Allan Aus Qst 20:24 0:56
25 Da Dalto Mauro Ita Lam 20:30 1:02
26 Martinez Acevedo Serafin Esp Xgz 20:30 1:02
27 Isaichev Vladimir Rus Xgz 20:33 1:05
28 Barla Luca Ita Mrm 20:34 1:06
29 Sokolov Evgeny Rus Bbo 20:35 1:07
30 Dockx Bart Bel Sil 20:40 1:12
31 Senac Jean Charles Fra Alm 20:40 1:12
32 Haddou Said Fra Bbo 20:43 1:15
33 Brutt Pavel Rus Kat 20:50 1:22
34 Ermeti Giairo Ita Lpr 20:56 1:28
35 Kaisen Olivier Bel Sil 20:56 1:28
36 Klimov Serguei Rus Kat 20:57 1:29
37 Gatto Oscar Ita Isd 20:59 1:31
38 Lund Anders Den Sax 21:02 1:34
39 Montaguti Matteo Ita Lpr 21:05 1:37
40 Le Floch Guillaume Fra Bbo 21:13 1:45
41 Tschopp Johann Sui Bbo 21:16 1:48
42 Forster Robert Ger Mrm 21:16 1:48
43 Belgy Julien Fra Bbo 21:17 1:49
44 Bono Matteo Ita Lam 21:17 1:49
45 Klostergaard Kasper Den Sax 21:18 1:50
46 Hunter Robert Rsa Bar 21:23 1:55
47 Scarselli Leonardo Ita Isd 21:25 1:57
48 Fernandez Ramos Alberto Esp Fuj 21:36 2:08
49 Ljungblad Jonas Swe Sil 21:37 2:09
50 Vigano' Davide Ita Fuj 21:37 2:09
51 Schroder Bjorn Ger Mrm 21:51 2:23
52 Swift Ben Gbr Kat 22:35 3:07
53 Fothen Thomas Ger Mrm 23:29 4:01

Acqua & Sapone/Mokambo Caffe's Massimo Codol   Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1515 CEST - The weset top 20 spits as Holland's Tjallingii set the best time.
1 Tjallingii Maarten Ned Rab 19:03 0:00
2 Stamsnijder Tom Ned Rab 19:28 0:25
3 Facci Mauro Ita Qst 19:31 0:28
4 Huzarski Bartosz Pol Isd 19:33 0:30
5 Krivtsov Yuriy Ukr Alm 19:33 0:30
6 Van Emden Jos Ned Rab 19:35 0:32
7 Stannard Ian Gbr Isd 19:36 0:33
8 Engels Addy Ned Qst 19:37 0:34
9 Quinziato Manuel Ita Liq 19:40 0:37
10 Rabunal Rios Gonzalo Esp Xgz 19:43 0:40
11 Petacchi Alessandro Ita Lpr 19:44 0:41
12 Barry Michael Can Thr 19:46 0:43
13 Lloyd Daniel Gbr Ctt 19:47 0:44
14 Ignatiev Mikhail Rus Kat 19:49 0:46
15 De Groot Bram Ned Rab 19:49 0:46
16 Palumbo Giuseppe Ita Asa 19:52 0:49
17 Caccia Diego Ita Bar 19:52 0:49
18 Cesar Veloso Gustavo Esp Xgz 19:55 0:52
19 Pate Danny Usa Grm 19:58 0:55
20 Muller Martin Ger Mrm 20:02 0:59

1518 CEST - Dries Devenyns of Belgium bettered Tjallingii's record by a second (19'12" v. 19'13") and is the new leader at the finish line.

Edvald Boasson Hagen is riding alongside St. Peter's Square. The Norwegian had the second best time at the opening check, with only Lithuania's Ignatas Konovalovas doing better.

1518 CEST Konovalovas comes to the line and smokes them all, clocking a great 18'42". The Lithuanian did better than Devenyns by a good twenty seconds, which is no small thing on such a short route.

Cervélo TestTeam's Ignatas Konovalovas rocks the clock.  
Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Boasson Hagen is just one second down to Konovalovas at the penultimate check. It will a close battle between the two guys until the very last metre.

Watch out for Brad Wiggins too. His intermediate time is not much different from those of Konovalovas and Boasson Hagen - the Norwegian's gap to Konovalovas is up to six seconds at km. 11.6. Wiggins was worse than the Lithuanian by just a mere second at the opening check.

 Close but no cigar for the Gent-Wevelgem winner. Meanwhile, the camera focuses on Brad Wiggins doing his best pursuit impression. He flies past an LPR rider. The British cycling press are talking up Wiggins' chances today; certainly, he's been targeting this stage in "eternal" Roma.

Wiggins is clocking the fastest time at the halfway mark. So many corners on this course though, making Konovalovas's average speed of 46km/h all the more impressive.  5 kilometres to go for the Brit, but he only leads Konovalovas's time at this point by three seconds. It's going to be close.  leader

Giovanni Visconti is coming into the finish, on a strong ride too. No maglia rosa for the youngster this time round, but he's done his best as a frequent aggressor over the last three weeks.

Giovanni Visconti finishes in 19:00, only 18 seconds off the winning pace, good enough for sixth place. Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Here comes Wiggins - he leads Konovalovas by ONE SECOND with barely a kilometre to go. It couldn't be closer. It's started raining too. Or the camera is sweating.. 700 metres to go for Wiggins, he has to dodge the BBox team car slightly. The Olympic medalist charges up to the line and stops the clock at... 18.43 - one second behind Ignatas Konovalovas. So close.

Crash for a BBox rider, it's Mathieu Sprick. Not a nice way to finish your Giro.

The good news for Ignatas is not only about Wiggins' time to the finish: also the fact it started raining big time over Rome is going to help him enough ...  Indeed, few riders will be risking a crash on the cobbles for a good time.

Disc wheels, basalt roads and rain do NOT go well together.

Vasili Kiryienka, usually a more than solid TTist, is one the first riders to be hampered by the weather, and finishes in a poor time. A hundred riders have completed their Tour of Italy fatigues already.

 The top three so far in the stage are Ignatas Konovalovas, Brad Wiggins (at 01") and Edvald Boasson Hagen (at 07").

This adds a slight element of risk to it - Di Luca may have conceded the Giro, but what if Menchov crashes today? You never know with cycling. There's quite a high chance that the current top three places will stay the same until the finish, at this point.

Wiggins may well curse that it started raining when he had 2000 metres to ride; that may be the difference between victory and defeat.

Here comes Jason McCartney, in 21 minutes and 06 seconds. Usually a decent TTist, the American was another victim of the rain today. His Saxo Bank team car almost runs over the guy waving cars down the diversion. Not a fun job today.

The weather change forced most teams to change their bikes. going from special ITT bikes - hard to handle on slippery roads - to average riding machines. Most of those who started recently have lost one minute or so on the first few miles. That speaks volumes about the weathers' impact. Now the rain has stopped, but the asphalt stays wet and dangerous.

Jens Voigt had a difficult time staying in the saddle as he hit the first cobbled section. Other, less experienced riders have ended dup on the tarmac instead.

Marco Pinotti is underway, with the Italian National ITT champion's jersey on his shoulders. A favourite of the Daily Peloton, the Columbia rider will be super-motivated to win in the nation's capital today. Filippo Simeoni not in attendance, this is one of the very few chances left for Italians to see a white, red and green jersey in action this year.

Next to the finish is Valerio Agnoli. Liquigas's uber-domestique finished in 22'02"- He lost to Cervelo's Konovalovas by three minutes and 20 seconds. The gap is impressive indeed - but again, it's the wet road factor.

A close-up of the notorious Sampietrini pave.
Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

 Pinotti is being braver than Jens Voigt in tackling the Rome downtown pavement, the infamous Sampietrini.  Even the wikipedia page dedicated to these tiles of black porphyry placed one next to the other states that "if wet, they can become very slippery".

Slovenia's Jure Golcer to the finish in 22 minutes and 10 seconds.

So, who is our current leader, Ignatas Konovalovas? He's a second year-pro, having won a Tour of Luxembourg stage and the Lithuanian national time-trial while with Crédit Agricole in 2008. However, a Grand Tour stage would easily eclipse anything the 23 year-old has done previously.

The roads are getting a little better now, but still Jens Voigt is being extremely careful while taking every turn. Even the guys following the riders on Italian TV motorbikes noticed that "it's like they put soap on the asphalt".

 Marco Pinotti is doing fine., well fine enough to ... limit his losses to Konovalovas to only 31 seconds at the opening check.

1606 CEST  - Chechu Rubiera will be the next finisher. There comes Lance's loyal "gregario". In 20'12".

000 metres to go for sloooooow Jens. His time is well over 20 minutes already. The German is in the finishing metres, one last turn .. and there he goes.

David Cioni comes in next in 21'06".

 "We must be very, very careful. Especially in the cobbled sections. Or it could turn out to be be very dangerous" were Voigt's first after-race comments.

 Two km to go for Marco Pinotti, who's about to catch the rider that started before him. Who is nobody else buy Poland's Szmyd, one of Liquigas' main "pace-makers". In the meantime, Team Columbia's Thomas Lovkvist began his last challenge.

Pinotti enters the last kilometre, he has no chances to beat Konovalovas any longer though. Marco finishes in 19'09".  That means he even gained some time on the Lithuanian in the last part of the challenge, but the wet roads he found in the early piece cost him the stage, or the provisional lead at least.

Gabriele Bosisio, super-domestique to the likes of Di Luca and Petacchi, is out on course. Another rider who made his name in the 2008 Giro, and backed it up with some attacking racing this time round.

Our Live Coverage Continues in Stage 21 Part 2

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