By Gregor Brown in Plan de Corones, Italy
Franco Pellizotti - affectionately known as the dolphin of Bibione - has lived up to his promise in this year's Giro d'Italia by winning the mountain time trial to Plan de Corones. Pellizotti moved up two spots on the overall classification, where he now sits in fifth place 2'05" behind Spain's Alberto Contador (Astana).
The 30 year-old of Liquigas faced a tough day on Monday after losing time to his key rivals on the previous two days in Italy's Dolomites. Pellizotti lost nine seconds on Saturday's finish at Alpe di Pampeago and another 1'17" on the way to the finish of Sunday's stage up Passo Fedaia.
Time was running out for Pellizotti to move back up in the classification before the race enters its final mountain stages in the alps. Pellizotti is looking to prove himself as a true team captain ahead of Ivan Basso's arrival at the squad at season's end.
"It is very important for me, everyone was looking forward to this and were critical of the stage," said Pellizotti, who resides in Marene di Piave.
Pellizotti became the first King of Corones, as the climb has never been used before. It was scheduled to be part of the 2006 Giro, the year that Pellizotti secured his first stage win, but was dropped at the last minute due to heavy snow fall at the 2260-metre peak.
"It required a lot," said Pellizotti at a packed press conference on the mountain's peak. "It is a very hard climb. Luckily it was a good day and it went alright, if it had been a bad weather today it would have been a lot worse."
Sun shined down as Pellizotti sat patiently and waited for the next six riders to cross the line after posting his time. Once race leader Contador crossed the line Pellizotti knew that his time of 40'26" was good enough to seize the day and secure his second Giro stage win in eight years as a professional.
"When I saw that Contador did worse than me, that was enough," said Pellizotti.
To read the full interview, click here.