Danilo Di Luca admitted defeat in the Giro d'Italia following the penultimate stage to Anagni Saturday. The winner of the 2007 edition trails Russia's Denis Menchov by 20 seconds ahead of a time trial in Rome.
"I think at this point it will be truly impossible, the time trial is a race that always suits him more than me," said Di Luca of team LPR Brakes. "It means that I have finished second, but I still believe I raced a great Giro d'Italia."
Di Luca slipped to second overall after last week's 60.6-kilometre time trial in Cinque Terre. He had led the race for seven days and won two stages, San Martino di Castrozza on day four and Pinerolo on day 10.
His last chance to take over his rival was the mountain stage up the Vesuvio volcano yesterday. He trailed by 20 seconds, but gained eight seconds in time bonuses by finishing third. Saturday, he had hoped to win the stage and gain the 20-second bonus to move into the overall lead by two seconds.
"Philippe Gilbert went well. He started over a kilometre out and no one pulled him back. It was not a finish truly suited to my style, it was too flat, suited to [teammate Alessandro] Petacchi. If he had not pulled in that last kilometre for me then he could have won."
Di Luca finished 12th in the 203-kilometre stage won by Belgium's Gilbert.
Di Luca will face the 14.4-kilometre stage in the historic centre of Rome. It starts and ends next to the Imperial Fora and passes some of city's famed sites – Porta Pia, Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Venezia and the Coliseum. He expects to lose 30 to 40 seconds from his rival Menchov.