By Daniel Friebe of BikeRadar.com in Milan
Marco Pinotti isn't the first rider to earn the nickname "Professor". Once upon a time, Laurent Fignon went by the same moniker, but there the similarity ends, at least as far as time trials on the final day of major tours are concerned. No-one will ever forget Fignon's collapse on the Champs Elysées in the 1989 Tour de France, and Pinotti will never forget his rousing victory in the 28.5-kilometre test which today wrapped up the 2008 Giro d'Italia.
"When I got to Corso Buenos Aires, I was so excited, because I remembered last year when we rode down there in the peloton. But on my own, riding between those two lines of fans, was unbelievable." Pinotti beamed tonight, having seen the time of 32'45" (52.213 kph) he set earlier in the afternoon withstand the onslaught of the general classification men. Not only could the Italian celebrate his High Road team's fourth stage win of the Giro - he was also thrilled to see the young German Tony Martin hold on to second place on the stage, just seven seconds behind. Another early starter, the Russian Mikhail Ignatiev completed the final stage podium, trailing Martin by three seconds.
"It's fantastic for the team to win four stages," the 32-year-old told reporters in the Milan press room tonight. "Can you remember that we weren't even invited to the Giro at first, in February? Well, of course I was upset then, because I'm Italian, but when we did finally get the invitation, we just wanted to do well and honour the race. Another important thing is that we're finishing with eight riders - and we only lost Kanstantin Siutsou yesterday because he'd been in a long break the previous day and developed a tendon problem, probably because of the cold."
Pinotti then went on to hail Bob Stapleton, who rescued the team from the ashes of T-Mobile last winter. Pinotti called the American "the best manager anyone could have".
"We should thank Stapleton," he added. "Bob always lets us focus on the racing. It wasn't easy for the team this winter, but I was never worried, because he was able to keep the pressure on himself and not on the team."