Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) has ridden to his first victory of the season, silencing a few critics en route to winning the 11th stage of the Giro d'Italia. Ullrich clocked 58'48 in the 50 km time trial starting and finishing in Pontedera, averaging over 51 km/h to beat maglia rosa Ivan Basso (CSC) by 28 seconds, with Italian TT champ Marco Pinotti (Saunier Duval) third at 1'01. Ullrich started well, but was not the fastest in the first two time checks. However, he picked it up on the return leg and no-one could match him.
The race for the GC was run behind Ullrich, and it went more or less as expected. Ivan Basso put time into all his major rivals, with Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile) losing roughly 40 seconds, Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel) 50 seconds, José E. Gutierrez (Phonak) 1'10, Tom Danielson (Discovery) 2'00, José Rujano (Selle Italia) 3'45, Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval) 3'50, Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) 4'30, Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) 4'45, and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) 5'00. All of these will be praying for a Basso implosion similar to last year in order to have a chance at victory.
"I'm amazed that I posted the best time - I didn't fire on all cylinders at first," said a surprised though exuberant Ullrich, who said he was simply using today's stage as a test of form more than anything else. "But when I heard that I was among the best [at the intermediate time checks], I gave it a hundred percent."
"I'm very pleased with my performance today," said Basso to team-csc.com post-stage. "It was a crucial stage for us, and I could tell afterwards that Bjarne was satisfied, which means a lot to me. It was important to gain as much time as possible on my closest rivals, who will all definitely be attacking some time in the remaining stages, so from that point of view it was a perfect day for us."
Team manager Bjarne Riis added, "Ivan did his best ever time trial. He did really brilliant, and I'm very proud of what he's accomplished in this discipline. Ullrich was in a league of his own and deserves great respect, even though the time difference would've turned out entirely different had he not had the advantage of the tailwind earlier in the day. But we have every reason to be satisfied with our result today. We increased the gap to our competitors, and we now enter the final and toughest part of the race with a solid margin."
See also: Stage 11 full results, report & photos and .