Vinokourov fears Cadel Evans

Astana leader set to keep pink after defensive ride on Terminillo

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) did not turn up for the race leader’s press conference after stage eight to Terminillo, claiming that he was too tired and complaining about a 120km transfer to his hotel.

He probably also heard the whistles from the Italian crowd and read the sign one spectator was holding up opposite the podium. It read: "Vinokourov ora hai perso anche la lealta" – “Vinokourov now you've lost your respect as well”. It perhaps refers to Saturday's stage, when Vinokourov did not wait for Nibali and Basso, after they crashed just before the dirt road section.

During stage two in Holland, Liquigas had refused to drive on the front of the bunch when Cadel Evans crashed, the Australian consequently losing more than 40 seconds on the general classification.

Vinokourov ignored the criticism and pulled on the pink jersey for a second consecutive day, and for the third time in this year's Giro. He has a 1:12 lead on Cadel Evans (BMC), with Vincenzo Nibali and Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) third and fourth at 1:33 and 1:51. With no more mountain stages until stage 14 to Asolo, next Saturday, he should be able to keep it until then. Unless Astana let a break get away, so he can save his team for the final week in the mountains.

The only thing Vinokourov admitted before disappearing down Terminillo was that he considers Evans his biggest threat to overall victory.

"After the effort yesterday, I think we all had sore legs but the team took advantage of the work by the Omega Pharma-Lotto and then Lampre teams," Vino said.

"Near the finish I carefully controlled Evans and everything worked out okay. Yesterday I realised that he was the strongest, so today I just watched him. He's the one that I fear the most."

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