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The 2011 Gıro d'Italia draws to an end today with a time trial in Milan.
Welcome to the closing stage of this year's Giro d'Italia. Will Alberto Contador celebrate his overall victory by winning today's time trial as well?
David MIllar (Garmin-Cervelo) is currently our leader, with a time of 30:13. Only seven seconds back is Alex Rasmussen of HTC-HIghroad, who might have taken the lead if he hadn't punctured in the last km.
Stefano Garzelli takes off. He is King of the Mountains in this race, but won't find a single solitary climb to conquer today.
This course was supposed to be 31.5km long, but was shortened to 26km, due to local elections. It was decided that the police were needed more for the elections than for the time trial. Far be it for us to stand in the way of the electoral process!
The stage ends at the Piazzo Duomo, in front of the Milan Cathedral. The last 150 meters are covered in red, white and green carpeting, the national colours of Italy, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the reunification of Italy.
Well, they told us the carpets would be there but we admit we don't see them....
Cyclingnews has an exclusive video interview with Contador – speaking english! Listen to him talking about the Giro here.
Thomas Löfkvist (Sky) and Tiago Machado (RadioShack) are on the road now. The two young riders will probably both be a bit disappointed with their 21st and 20th places overall.
Giovanni Visconti heads to the finish, in 20th place.
How are things working out with Contador and his new team of Saxo Bank-SunGard? Couldn't be better, DS Philippe Mauduit told Cyclingnews.
It's a lovely sunny day in northern Italy today. Looks nice and warm, too.
We have 159 riders going to the start house today. That means that 48 riders have left the race.
Of course that includes the entire Leopard Trek team, after the death of Wouter Weylandt on stage three.
We have only four teams (out of 23) who are still complete with nine riders: AG2R, Katusha, Liquigas and Saxo Bank-SunGard. Hardest hit is HTC-Highroad, which has only 4 riders in the race today.
Here's an HTC-Highroad rider about to take off: it is Sivtsov.
Ulissi and Kiserlovski are finishing pretty much together. Ulissi passed the Astana rider along the way.
Mikel Nieve is ready to hit the course. The Euskaltel rider could claim a stage this year.
Paolo Tiralonga hits one of the intermediate time checks. What an emotion stage win he had!
Carlos Sastre is only 42nd at the second intermediate time check. This has really not been his race.
Jerseys! Who has them, and who will take them home? Barring any unforeseen catastrophes, we think we can make some predictions.
Alberto Contador will have the maglia rosa for the overall winner, which he has worn since Stage 9. It has also rested on the shoulders of Mark Cavendish and Marco Pinotti (both HTC-Highroad), David Millar (Garmin-Cervelo) and Pieter Weening of Rabobank during the race.
Former Giro winner Denis Menchov, now with Geox, takes to the road now.
The mountain jersey will go to Stefano Garzelli of Acqua & Sapone which he claimed first on Stage 19. It was passed along by Sebastian Lang (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Gianluca Brambilla (Colnago), Martin Kohler (BMC), Bart De Clerq (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Filippo Savini Colnago), and Contador.
Sivtsov came into the stage in 11th place, and could well move up. He is only 1:33 behind Nieve, with Kruikswijk another second ahead. Who is the better TTer of the three?
Krueziger is underway, and Rujano is about to do the same.
Only two riders have worn the points jersey in the race, Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) and Contador. And of course the Spaniard is winning this one, too.
This could be a tough day for Rujano. The little climber is, well, a climber and not a TTer......
Best young rider -- so far -- is Roman Kreuziger of Astana. He first got the white jersey on the ninth stage, inheriting it from Björn Selander (RadioShack), Jan Bakelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto), and Steven Kruijswijk of Rabobank.
Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha is next. He is now in fifth place and would dearly love to move up to fourth. The only problem is, well, he really can't time trial at all.
Massimo Codol of Acqua & Sapone has crossed the finish line 51 seconds slower than Millar, giving him third place at the moment.
John Gadret now goes. He is the one on fourth place, who is being chased by Rodriguez. His problem? You guessed it, TTing is not at all specialty either!
Next up will be Vincenzo Nibali, who is currentl 56 seconds down in third place. Will he be able top make that up on this course?
Apparently the Codol time is not officially confirmed.
Contador is now ready to go!
All in pink, except for his helmet. Even has cute little pink booties!
There is no question as to who will win this race, but there is still a battle for second place. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) picked up 13 seconds on Michele Scarponi (Lampre) on Friday, but Scarponi turned things around yesterday, gaining 18 seconds. You can read here what the two rivals have to say about it all.
Rujano is way down at the intermediate time check. Not good news for him, but no real surprise, either.
Machado crosses the finish line in 8th place.
Contador is flying along in his usual smoooooth style.
There is also a battle on for fourth place. It is currently held by John Gadret (AG2R) but Katusha' Joaquim Rodriguez is not that far behind him. The only problem is that – how can we put this politely? -- time trialing is absolutely not the strenght of either man. Here is more about the “duel of the non-time-trialists”.
Nibali passes his team bus. He is probably not quite ready to board it.
Nibali is fifth at the first intermdiate time check.
And Igor Anton finishes the stage as 83rd so far. Ouch.
The next to come in is Carrara, in 75th place.
Let's look at the stage wins in this year's race. Two riders won two each: Mark Cavendish and Alberto Contador. Team winner was HTC-Highroad, with three (they won the team time trial as well). Nation-wise, Spain took six stages, Italy five, and the UK two. None of this includes today's stage, of course.
There was, of course, no winner in the fourth stage.
Oooh, Scarponi has lost time. He has lost 10 seconds on Nibali so far.
Two riders coming in. Le Mevel is 92d and Cataldo is 24th.
Nibali powers his way around a traffic circle. Or roundabout, if you prefer.
Sivtsov finishes 1:16 behind MIllar, giving him ninth place on the stage at the moment.
Also Scarponi is doggedly making his way along, looking to hang on to his second place.
Perhaps Contador will take his third stage win today. He beat Millar's time at the first time check by one second.
We've seen a number of very emotional moments at this year's Giro, and there was another one at the end of yesterday's stage, when Vasili Kiryienka devoted his stage win to Xavier Tondo, who died last week.
Kruijswijk is in, at 1.31 down, putting him in 16th place at the moment.
Gadret is over two minutes down at the second time check.
Nibali in ninth place at the second time check, nearly one minute down.
Menchov only 31st at the finish line, over two minutes slower than the current leader.
Now it is Kreuziger's turn. He has a time of 31:39.
Scarponi was 14th at the time check, 1:04 down. He looks like he will safely hold on to his placing.
Contador has lost time. He is only third at the second time check!
Rujano is 42nd at the end.
We are definitely going to see some changes in the top ten today -- but not in the top three.
Contador has nothing to fear from his two nearest rivals. He has 39 seconds on Nibali today and 55 on Scarponi.
Rodriguez once again shows his time trial weakness, finishing 2:14 down in 37th place.
Nibali negotiates a curve on the cobbles in downtown Milan.
Gadret: he is in with a time of 33:04, which is 68th place.
Nibali is right behind him with a time of 31:31, for tenth place.
Scarponi is next, then Contador.
Only a few hundred metrs for Scarponi.
He crosses the line in a time of 31:41, only 10 seconds slower than Nibali. But it makes no difference.
Millar has won -- Contador is already over his time.
The Spaniard wave to the crowd, points to his sponsor and raises his arms in the air as he crosses the finish line as third fastest on the stage -- but the fastest after all three weeks of the Giro!
Congratulations to Contador, who has now won his sixth Grand Tour: Three Tours de France, two Giro d'Italia and one Vuelta a Espana.
The winner's podium is draped in pink, but says: 108, WW always with us.
1 David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:30:13
2 Alex Rasmussen (Den) HTC-Highroad 0:00:07
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:00:36
4 Richie Porte (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:00:43
5 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Team RadioShack 0:00:55
6 Jos Van Emden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:01:02
7 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:01:04
8 Patrick Gretsch (Ger) HTC-Highroad 0:01:08
9 Tiago Machado (Por) Team RadioShack 0:01:12
10 Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad 0:01:16
That was the first Giro stage win for Millar. He now has a stage win in each of the Grand Tours.
And our final Top Ten in GC:
1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 84:05:14
2 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 6:10
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 6:56
4 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 10:04
5 Joaquím Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 11:05
6 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Pro Team Astana 11:28
7 José Rujano Guillen (Ven) Androni Giocattoli 12:12
8 Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC 12:18
9 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 13:51
10 Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad 14:10
Congratulations to one and all: To the Giro podium, the jersey winners, the stage winners, and to all those who finished the race after all those grueling climbs!
And of course thank you for reading along!