Frenchman John Gadret created a bit of a surprise by finishing third behind Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone) and Cadel Evans (BMC) in the individual time trial up to Plan de Corones at the Giro d'Italia. He welcomed the result as the best of his career so far.
"I'm extremely happy," he said after stage 16. "After eight kilometres, I only had a 30-second advantage over [Ag2r-La Mondiale teammate Hubert] Dupont, so I didn't think I was putting in a good time. But I recuperated a lot of seconds on the gravelled roads. I had great feelings there. It was like cyclo-cross."
At the Passo Furcia after 7.6km, Gadret only had the 11th best time, 42 seconds behind Evans, but he scored the second fastest time of the latter portion of the course where he rode 30 seconds faster than the Australian former mountain biker.
Gadret, 31, originally from the Champagne area, is more famous in cyclo-cross than as a road rider. He was the French 'cross champion twice in 2004 and 2006 and made the podium seven times in the Elite category. Gadret finished 8th and 9th at the cyclo-cross world championship in 2007 and 2008 successively.
"To finish such an important stage of the Giro d'Italia ahead of Ivan Basso and Alexandre Vinokourov is fantastic," Gadret said. "My Giro d'Italia is already a success but I'll try and win a stage before the end. However, today is the best performance of my career."
Gadret won the Tour de l'Ain, a four-day stage race that also includes some big climbs, in 2007 but he had already produced a good showing at the corsa rosa in 2006 when he made the top 7 in three mountain stages before he crashed and had to abandon due to a broken collarbone on stage 18. The Ag2r team tried to make him a climber at the Tour de France after that but he never met expectations. Gadret finished 54th in 2007 and pulled out after one week in 2008.