Bruseghin tops while Astana's Contador and Klöden romp
Lampre's Marzio Bruseghin ruled the damp day in the Giro d'Italia's tenth stage, a difficult 39.4-kilometre individual timed test from Pesaro to Urbino. The 33-year-old Italian, whose last win came in the mountain time trial of the 2007 Giro d'Italia, clocked a time of 56 minutes and 41 seconds and then waited nervously while the favourites tried but fail to unseat him.
"We worked with attention to every detail," exclaimed the day's winner, Bruseghin. "We were all working towards this win, the mechanics, everyone. My characteristics were favoured here. I can't take the maglia rosa, but there are certain stages, like this one, where I can take advantage."
The Italian's three wins in 12 years as a professional came in time trials, in addition to Urbino and Oropa, he won the 2006 Italian championship.
While the day belonged to Bruseghin, the coup of the race came from Astana. The team of Johan Bruyneel took control of the general classification fight thanks to Tour de France champion Alberto Contador – second at eight seconds – and Andreas Klöden – third at 20 seconds.
Italian Champion Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) held onto the race leader's maglia rosa which he gained on the escape of stage six, clocking a time of 57'46", just over one minute back from the stage winner. He even passed his closest GC rival, German Matthias Russ, and now leads by over three minutes. "I tried to do something good and I think that I did it. So, I am satisfied with the day," noted the 25 year-old from Silica.
Alberto Contador is first of the race's main classification contenders at 6'59" back, Klöden 55" further back, Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) 1'04", Paolo Savoldelli (LPR Brakes) 1'09", Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott) 1'33", Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes) 1'34" and Denis Menchov (Rabobank) 1'58".
Contador steadily gained time throughout the time trial as it gained 446 metres from start to finish. The 25-year-old was fourth fastest at the first time check (km 9.6), third at the second (km 23.4) of Monte di Colbordolo, top at the third time check (32.2) of Cà Angelone, but lost time on the wet finale, sliding to seventh best in the final section.
"I lost due to the wet roads," he stated after climbing through the narrow city centre roads in Urbino. "I was sliding around too much in the finale and it was cold."
Marco Pinotti (High Road) briefly had the day's best time, at 57'17", but was ousted by Bruseghin and finished the day in fourth
The day was well suited for 'Il Falco' Paolo Savoldelli. The Italian, who excels in technical time trials, was on a good time when his chain skipped off the ring with 300 metres to go, costing him precious seconds and forcing a bike change.
"From what they said I was not fighting for the stage win, had I been fighting for the stage win it would have burned worse," confirmed the rider from Bergamo, a two-time Giro d'Italia champion. He was satisfied with his day. "I was more or less there with Klöden."
Right behind Savoldelli was last year's Vuelta a España winner, Denis Menchov (Rabobank). The Russian closed the day in sixth, at 46" back.
Liquigas' two captains – Nibali and Franco Pellizotti – put in strong performances to take seventh and 18th spots respectively. "I was always there in the first week and the mountains will make mess of this," said Nibali, looking towards the high mountains. The day's stage went as planned for the young rider. "I went strong in the finale, so it went well. The roads were more or less dry, even though I slid a couple of times."
Like many, Nibali was impressed with two-time Giro d'Italia winner, Gilberto Simoni (Diquigiovanni), who finished a surprising 10th place. "Simoni went really strong, he is clearly a favourite," he added.
"I don't know how the classification will unfold by the end of the day," Simoni stated following his run. The rider from Trento used the hilly second half of the course to go above and beyond his normal time trialing abilities.
Simoni is keeping an eye on the classification in his bid for a third maglia rosa. "For sure, I have to watch riders like Klöden, Di Luca, Leipheimer, and, surely, Contador. I believe that these are the riders who are the most dangerous. I am there; it's good."
Overall contender Riccò did not have a good day due to a crash and understandably was not happy at the finish. "The descents were slick for me," he noted, looking down at the blood coming through his left leg warmer. "My glove got caught in the handlebar, which made it impossible to make a bend, so I wound up on the floor. If not for this, I could have finished 40 seconds earlier, and that would´ve been a wonderful time trial for a rider like me."
Race favourite and 2007 winner, Di Luca, who predicted Riccó would give up several minutes, was himself the day's loser, and finished 19th at 2'11" back. Still, he was content with the day even though he fared worst of the overall contenders.
"I was going well on the flats, but on the climbs I could have gone better," he confirmed. "In the classification we are all still there, so this does not change anything. From Saturday forward there will be a lot of [time] gaps. I think Sunday's stage to Marmolada will be the most important.
Tony Martin (High Road) closed out the top twenty. The 23 year-old German was the day's early leader with his time of 58'54".
How it unfolded
With riders starting in reverse order, numero nero Ermanno Capelli (Saunier Duval) rolled down the start ramp at 13.00 local time on a day which saw intermittent wind and rain along Italy's Adriatic coast. Capelli's time of 1'07'43 didn't hold up long, as Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff) first took the lead before High Road's Tony Martin came in with a speedy 58'54.
The fifth man to start was Rabobank's Graeme Brown, who recorded what turned out to be the day's slowest ride of 1'09'05.
Tinkoff's Vasili Kiryienka put on quite a show, passing several riders in front and blitzing through the intermediate time checks. But the Belarussian suffered big time on the final ascent and fell 10 seconds short of Martin's mark.
The expected onslaught from the Astana Armada began with Vladimir Gusev besting Martin's time by eight seconds. The Russian didn't hold the lead for long, though, as High Road's Italian TT champion Marco Pinotti wowed the crowds by knocking 1'29 from Gusev's time.
Next up for Astana was Levi Leipheimer. The American looked smooth and focused, but had to break his concentration to avoid a stray motorcycle, eventually finishing the day in ninth, 1'01 down.
But Pinotti didn't have long to enjoy his lead. Out on the road, Astana's Andreas Klöden and Marzio Bruseghin of Lampre were setting new intermediate best times. The Italian powered his way up the final winding, cobblestone climb with a time of 56'41, which would prove to be the best of the day.
Klöden crossed the line in 57'0l, giving himself second place. LPR's Paolo Savoldelli was looking for a top three finish when his chain popped off on the final climb and he had to change bikes. He came in 44 seconds down, which was still good enough for fifth.
Astana's Alberto Contador had been diagnosed with a fractured elbow earlier in the week, and there were doubts that he would do well today. But the Tour de France champion laid those doubts to rest as he came in only eight seconds slower than Bruseghin, giving Astana second and third on the day.
The only question that remained was as to how much time maglia rosa Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) would gain over second overall Matthias Russ (Gerolsteiner). The young Italian passed the young German along the way, adding nearly three minutes to his lead. Contador was the other big winner of the day, moving up from eighth to third overall.