Polar opposites for Russian pair

Maglian nera for Sokolov

While Russian rider Denis Menchov secured the general classification at this year's Giro d'Italia in Rome on Sunday, a coutryman finished at the other end of the standings - Evgeny Sokolov took the virtual maglia nera (black jersey) for taking last overall.

"It was a difficult race. I had a crash and there were a lot of hard days after, but at least I could continue and I did not have a fracture," Sokolov told Cyclingnews.

Sokolov's crash came last Wednesday in the stage to Arenzano. He finished 21 minutes down and slid down the overall rankings to 185th.

He finished 99th in the final stage in Rome, one minute and 53 seconds behind stage winner Ignatas Konovalovas. He closed the three-week race just under five hours (4:59:11) behind Menchov.

"It is nice to finish the race in Rome, though. It is my first time here and I would like to return with my wife on a vacation."

The BBox Bouygues Telecom rider won stage two of La Tropicale Amissa Bongo Ondimba earlier this year, helping earn him a berth in the centennial Giro. Having successfully completed it he will have a short break and continue his season looking for results in the pursuit of a contract for 2010.

The maglia nera was awarded from 1946 to 1951; the last winner was Giovanni Pinarello. Last year organisers awarded a black number plate, but this year there was no actual award.

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