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The maglia rosa group tries to minimize the time gap to the lead trio of Basso, Nibali and Scarponi.
Astana captain hopes to close out Giro with a stage win
Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) and David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne) lost 2:20 in the final twenty kilometres of stage 19 to the leading trio of Ivan Basso, Vincenzo Nibali (both Liquigas-Doimo) and Michele Scarponi (Androni Giocattoli). The Kazakhstani didn't agree with the tactics suggested by Arroyo, the wearer of the pink jersey, and the Spaniard was eventually left to do most of the chasing by himself.
On the Mortirolo, Vinokourov looked strong when he dropped his companions Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam), John Gadret (Ag2R-La Mondiale) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) while Arroyo was already further back. But Basso, Nibali and Scarponi were already ahead and out of reach.
"For a little while I didn't feel good in the climb," Vinokourov said at his hotel after stage 19. "It was too difficult for me to follow these three riders when the hill was very steep. With the physique I have, I couldn't stay with them. I preferred to keep some strength for later."
On the downhill, Vinokourov experienced the surprise of being caught by Arroyo. "I didn't want to take too many risks in the descent but apparently Arroyo made a different choice," the Kazakhstani said. "Once he reached me, he wanted to wait for Sastre and Evans. He counted on their help to catch the trio in the front. But it wasn't my choice. I thought that him and me were able to bridge the gap of 40 seconds. I wanted to win the stage." In Vinokourov's opinion, waiting for Evans, Sastre and Gadret wasn't an option so he decided to not cooperate with Arroyo later on.
Despite having a five to three advantage once Vinokourov and Arroyo were caught by their three pursuers, the quintet were unable to reduce the gap to Basso, Nibali and Scarponi.
"In my group there were some riders with no motivation to fight," Arroyo said.
"There wasn't the necessary understanding or strength in our group to reduce the differences," Sastre said. "Gadret didn't collaborate much either," added Sastre's directeur sportif Alex Sanz Vega. "Carlos, Evans and Arroyo were the ones who worked together. Vinokourov, I don't understand his style of racing."
In reality, Evans was too tired to cooperate as much as he normally does and Arroyo did most of the work. There was no Spanish alliance, nor foreign alliance behind the Italian alliance at the front of the race.
According to Vinokourov, Basso has already won the 2010 Giro d'Italia. "It would be ridiculous to believe the opposite," he said. But he hasn't given up his personal goal of winning a stage with two days to go. "I hear that bad weather is expected for the Gavia stage, it sounds good to me," he said. "But if it doesn't work, I still have the final time trial to try and get a victory. It's in Verona, I know the course from the 1999 world championship, although it's the other way round this time."