Alexandre Vinokourov looked fed up but not devastated as he lost the pink jersey in L'Aquila at the end of the Giro d'Italia's thrilling stage 11 in the centre of Italy. He was clearly a victim of the men in black at the front of the race as the pace in the winning breakaway was set predominantly by the dark-kitted Saxo Bank, Cervélo TestTeam, Caisse d'Epargne and Sky squads.
"It's been a long day," Vinokourov said. "The breakaway went and none of the favourites wanted to move. It was too cold and too rainy for taking any risks. It was once again very demanding. For sure, in these conditions, my body didn't respond so well but some riders who didn't handle their responsibilities can have regrets."
"It'll be up to other teams to handle the responsibilities from now on." 'Vino' told Cyclingnews. "I got the feeling that nobody wanted to chase, so it wasn't up to me to do even more. I've had the pink jersey for five days and riders like Basso and Nibali have more chances than me to win the Giro. Therefore, it wasn't up to me to do their job.
"Nobody thought the breakaway would take so much advantage. We set tempo with Acqua e Sapone and BMC and then we said 'basta' (it's enough). The Liquigas riders understood too late that there would be some damage on GC. It's their fault if Sastre, Tondo or Arroyo are ahead on GC now."
One reason for Vinokourov to have difficulty in bringing back the breakaway is the weakness of his team. After losing Paolo Tiralongo in a crash in stage 6, three of his teammates abandoned during this epic stage to L'Aquila: his young Kazakhstani compatriots Valentin Iglinsky and Alexandr Dyachenko as well as Italy's Enrico Gasparotto. "This isn't a good news," Vino said. "But today we've seen a lot of fatigue in the bunch. We aren't the only ones in that situation."
In fact, as Jeff Louder and Mauro Santambrogio also pulled out, BMC is left with four teammates at the service of Cadel Evans.
"What happened today will not prevent me from fighting until the end in Verona," Vinokourov said. "I still have a chance to finish in the top three as I announced at the start. It's up to the Italian favourites like Basso and Nibali to show that they're here to win the Giro. They are the biggest losers today. As for myself, I have shown since the start that I'm back at a good level, that's what I wanted."