Liquigas’s Ivan Basso signaled his clear intention to win this year’s Giro d’Italia by taking more than a minute out of race leader David Arroyo on Tuesday’s fearsome mountain time-trial to Plan de Corones.
The day belonged to former Giro d’Italia champion Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone), impressively winning the 16th stage in the Italian Dolomites by 42 seconds from BMC’s Cadel Evans. Overall leader Arroyo (Caisse d’Epargne) retained his pink jersey, but lost 1-06 to Basso, who now sits second overall to the Spaniard, 2-27 down, with Saxo Bank’s Tasmanian devil, Richie Porte, dropping a place to third,
It was another spirited performance by Aussie Porte, losing just a second to Arroyo, and retaining his grip on the white jersey of the race’s best young rider.
Garzelli – the 2000 Giro champion – recorded a time of 41.28 over the 12.9km climb indicating just how tough the partly unpaved route to the top of Plan de Corones is, reaching gradients of 24 per cent at times.
“This is one of the most sought-after stages,” a delighted Garzelli said after his win. “I do not have a chance at the general classification, given L’Aquila and the crashes, so on Monte Grappa [on Saturday] I decided to sit up and lose time to aim for stages. It worked out well, but I didn’t believe it would happen. It does not seem real.”
Evans, starting the day in fifth place overall, came closest to Garzelli’s time, clad in the red points leader’s jersey – or rather skinsuit – instead of his now familiar rainbow jersey of world champion, fighting his bike all the way to the top of the mountain, but recording a time a full 42 seconds slower than the Italian’s. However, Evans did leapfrog Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) to now sit fourth overall, 3-09 down on Arroyo. The Australian’s Giro is still far from over.
Sastre lost a huge 2-31 to Garzelli, dropping to fifth overall, and his 4-36 deficit to Arroyo – or, perhaps more importantly, his position 2-09 down on Basso – may now be insurmountable.
More positive than the Cervelo TestTeam atmosphere at the dinner table this evening will be that of the French Ag2r team. John Gadret has shown flashes of brilliance at this year’s Giro, and his third place on today’s stage, 54 seconds down on Garzelli, indicates that he may be returning to his best. If Gadret hadn’t been included in Ag2r’s original Tour de France plans so far, manager Vincent Lavenu will certainly have to take a close look at his final nine for the squad now given the former French cyclo-cross champion’s current form.
Liquigas’s Vincenzo Nibali, Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) and Androni Giocattoli’s Michele Scarponi now round out the top eight overall on Tuesday evening. Nibali will no doubt now have to work for team-mate Basso to help him bring home the pink jersey, while Vino and Scarponi have now surely lost their chance, and have too much to do as this race enters its final five days.
But this race has surpassed all expectations so far, and no doubt there will be more surprises yet to come ahead of the Giro’s conclusion – with a 15km individual time trial – in Verona on Sunday.
Giro d’Italia 2010, stage 16: Plan de Corones, 12.9km ITT
1. Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone in 41-28
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team at 42secs
3. John Gadret (Fra) Ag2r at 54secs
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo at 1-01
5. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli at 1-07
6. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo at 1-10
7. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d’Epargne at 1-36
8. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana at 1-37
9. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quick Step at 1-41
10. Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Katusha at 1-46
Overall classification after stage 16
1. David Arroyo (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne in 68-32-26
2. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo at 2-27
3. Richie Porte (Aus) Saxo Bank at 2-36
4. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team at 3-09
5. Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo at 4-36
6. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo at 4-53
7. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana at 5-12
8. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli at 5-25
9. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Liquigas-Doimo at 8-57
10. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini at 9-13
2010 Giro d’Italia coverage in association with Zipvit