Maglia Rosa Di Luca adds time, Piepoli shows mountain strength
Italian Time Trial Champion Marzio Bruseghin showed his skills are also effective on the vertical slopes by conquering the 12.58-kilometre climb to the Santuario di Oropa in 28 minutes and 55 seconds. Maglia Rosa Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) marched up the mountain to take third, behind mountain goat Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Prodir). He kept his race lead and in the process earned precious seconds on his rivals.
With a time of 28'55", 32 year-old Bruseghin took his second win in his eleventh year as a professional. He crossed the line next to the Santuario dressed in the Maglia Tricolore, the reward from his first pro win, which came on June 20, 2006, in the Italian time trial championships.
Bruseghin passed into the professional ranks in 1997 with Brescialat and then from 1999 to 2002 he raced in Spain with Banesto. In 2003, he returned to Italy to serve as a gregario for Petacchi at Fassa Bortolo and, starting with 2006, working for Cunego at Lampre-Fondital. He is currently in second overall, 1'03" behind Di Luca, but will dedicate himself in the coming stages to his team captain.
The rider from Piadera di Vittorio Veneto, Italy's north, just edged out Leo Piepoli, who comes from the south, in Puglia. Piepoli stormed through the early time check at kilometre 9.4 with a time of 21'02" and then arrived at the summit, clad in the best climber's Maglia Verde (on loan from Di Luca), with a time of 28'56".
Piepoli's time knocked out Captain America, David Zabriskie, who arrived in his national TT champion's jersey with the provisional best time of 29'14". It was a small ray of light for Team CSC considering that the team's manager, Bjarne Riis, was admitting to doping at the same moment in Denmark.
"To lose by one second always hurts," said Piepoli who ended the day with a time of 28'56". "But this is another result to confirm a condition that, especially in the mountains, sees me up with the front-runners. There are some regrets but the verdict is accepted, also because Saunier Duval's Giro does not end here at Oropa."
Clad in the pink colours of race leader, Danilo Di Luca rolled out of the start house in Biella last. He smoothly rotated his gears, bettering Piepoli by four seconds at kilometre 9.4 but falling short where it mattered, at the line, by eight seconds. However, he did gain 21" on Garzelli, 30" on Cunego, 32" on Schleck and 58" on Simoni.
"For me it was important to add something more on the other rivals," Di Luca confirmed. "Milano is still a long ways off."
He commented on his growth as a GC rider. "I have always thought to win a Giro. Maybe now it is closer than ever. I know my characteristics well and my abilities. When I turned pro, I always believed it was possible and then, at 30 years-old, I started to think it was the time to try winning the Giro.
2004 Champion Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) closed the day at 29'33", just behind Garzelli and Mazzoleni. After the stage he was happy with his team's performance and he is looking forward to Sunday's Tre Cime di Lavaredo and Wednesday's Monte Zoncolan.
"I am happy for [teammate] Marzio because he is a specialist against the clock and it is good for the team," noted a relaxed Cunego. "I am satisfied with my time. I did more or less what I wanted to do for this stage. We [the favourites] are all still together in the same time range. ... Di Luca went well but the Giro is still long. There are still some big da