By Bjorn Haake
Andreas Klöden (Astana) took over the lead in Tirreno-Adriatico with a dominating performance in the 30-kilometre stage five time trial to Macerata. With his time of 41:32 he beat his closest rivals, Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) and Thomas Lövkvist (Columbia-Highroad) by over 20 seconds. Lövkvist is now second overall, just six seconds back, ahead of Michele Scarponi (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) in third, at 21 seconds and Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) at 41 seconds.
An exhausted Klöden was quite happy at the finish. "This was a nice time trial for me. The parcours was for me with lots of up and down and a flat part in the middle.
"On purpose I started very fast. I had the best time at the first time split which was good for my confidence. At the second time split I was second, but had a better time than my competitors for the general classification. It gave me a boost and extra forces to tackle the difficult climb at 4km from the finish. The finish was hard.
"I was a bit uncertain because of three crashes in the last two days, but my condition is so good that it didn't prevent me from performing very well. I really worked hard to be good in this race. I succeeded."
Klöden was pensive about Monday's queen stage. "We'll see, it's a long and hard stage. Lövkvist is a good rider, who has a good team."
Tirreno-Adriatico finishes on Tuesday. Monday's stage will feature is a tough and long 235km stage, between Civitanove Marche and Camerino and with two classified mountains.
"A few days ago we lost Jani Brajkovic after a crash, but I have big confidence in my other teammates. It will be hard but we will defend this leader's jersey," said Klöden.