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At the end of the Giro's longest stage, 223 km between Celano and L’Aquila, the treasured maglia...
At the end of the Giro's longest stage, 223 km between Celano and L’Aquila, the treasured maglia rosa changed hands again with Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi) taking it from Paolo Bettini after winning the stage. Di Luca benefited from the excellent work of his green clad teammates, who chased down a dangerous break containing Bettini himself and made sure he was in a good position to contest the tough uphill finish. Fassa Bortolo tried to steal the victory from under Di Luca's nose when Marzio Bruseghin made a very enterprising move at 300m to go, but the "Killer" from Abruzzo hauled him back in and crossed the line with a bike length to spare to celebrate his second win of this year's Giro.
It was mission accomplished for ProTour leader Di Luca, who came to the race to win a stage and wear the maglia rosa once. "I am happy: I've achieved my aim," Di Luca commented afterwards. "I dreamed of winning the stage, but I didn't imagine getting the pink jersey as well. I have to thank the Liquigas-Bianchi team that did a great job for me today and has believed in me since the beginning of the year, treating me as a leader. They deserve that I repay them with such results."
Liquigas played a key role in setting up the stage for Di Luca, with Vladimir Miholjevic and Charly Wegelius playing a spoiler role in Bettini's 21 man breakaway, then chasing it down at the finish, with CSC performing the coupe de grace on the run into L'Aquila.
Di Luca's role in the Giro will change now, as he will work for Liquigas-Bianchi's GC leaders Stefano Garzelli and Dario Cioni.