David Arroyo kept the pink jersey at the Giro d'Italia after the climb to the summit of the Zoncolan but realised it will be hard for him to hold off Ivan Basso and the other big names as they gained large chunks of time on him during the climb.
“I did the Zoncolan in the 2007 Giro d’Italia and I had bad memories of it but this time it went much better”, Arroyo claimed.
“This is harder than the Anglirù in Spain where you have some breathing space every 500 metres. Up here it goes steep for six kilometres with nowhere to recover.”
In the crucial part of the climb, Arroyo told his teammate Arnold Jeannesson that he didn’t want anymore help. “He was climbing at a rhythm that didn’t suit me”, Arroyo explained about the young French climber from Caisse d’Epargne. “He was changing gear sometimes while I wanted a steady pace.”
Arroyo admitted he was impressed by “an extraordinary Ivan Basso”.
“The Liquigas team started the stage very strongly and now I’m not very confident about keeping the maglia rosa till the end of the race after what we’ve seen today. Basso is very strong. But we’ll try to keep him and his team under control. All I can say is that we’ll fight until the very end of the Giro.”
With a 3:33 lead over Basso, Arroyo should be able to keep the pink jersey for at least another four days. “I don’t know the Plan de Corones but I’ll go and see it tomorrow to figure out how to do my best there”, he said.
However after that he faces two mountain stages in the Dolomites and the final time trial in Verona. Meaning there is time for Basso and other riders to pull back time and for him to lose the Giro d'Italia. The suspense will probably last right to the very end of the Giro.