Wednesday, 26 May 2010

The Time Trial that was no ordinary Time Trial

Stage 16 of this year's Giro was a challenging 12.9km individual time trial climb up Plan de Corones. At an altitude of as much as 1086m and with an average slope of 8.5%, and a max of 24% near the summit making the last 1500m the hardest, the climb was set to ruffle some feathers amongst the GC. The riders set out in three groups, a minute appart and in reverse GC order, with Frapporti (CSF) heading out first.

As the last group of 52 riders started, the leaderboard stood with liquigas rider Szmyd holding the fastest time, followed by Moncoutié (COF), Monier (COF) Simoni (LAM) and Marzano (LAM), and the current race jerseys held by Lloyd (OLO) in green, Evans (BMC) in red and Porte (SAX) in the White best riders jersey, having lost the Maglia Rosa to Arroyo last week.

Patches of snow on the top of the Kronplatz reminded everyone that it was no ordinary Time Trial as the riders, some in TT national champion jerseys, made their way to the summit. With a narrow route that turned to nothing more than a dirt track near the peak, the climb was only possible on bikes, forcing mechanics to sit on motorcades, uncomfortably with the necessary acutriments. With team cars unable to ascend, riders were forced to travel back down following their ride by chairlift. The last time a time trial was here was in 2008 and Pellizoti took the victory with a time of 40.26 mins.

At the time check a little over 7km into the climb, Garmin's Martin was up 1 second on leader Szmyd. As Martin arrived at the summit, Belarus TT champion Samoilau was setting a new fast time at the check. Of the final 15 riders, Quickstep rider Cataldo was first to start, as the columbian Uran (GCE) overtook Samoilau's intermediate time by 12 seconds, as Martin finished in the second fastest time of 44 minutes.

Having shown his abilities as a climber in last years Tour De France, Sky's man Wiggins was 2 minutes down on the time check, as Pozzato finished 3 mins down on Szmyd at the summit, shortly followed by birthday boy Samoilau who overtook Horach on the finish line to set a new fastest time. His time stood until Uran (GCE) came in a little over 43 mins. Meanwhile Garzelli looked comfortable pedelling a light gear in the last km to set a time of 41.28 that looked likely to stand. Down at the check however, Scarponi was 8 seconds up, looking good to set a fast time at the summit as Arroyo got ready to start.

With the top 5 finishers now at Garzelli (ASA), Gadret (ALM), Uran (GCE), Cataldo and Petrov, as Scarponi overtook Gerdemann who had started 3 minutes before. In a small gear, and with a high cadence, his ride looked strong enough to place high at the finish. At the check, World Champion TT Evans was 4 seconds up on the leading check time, while by contrast the Italian TT champion was 3 mins down on the race leader, as Scarponi finished 1.07 mins down.

Last minute Liqigas team inclusion, Nibali, finished in the 3rd position at 42.29 mins with Astana rider Vinokurov, BMC's Evans, Sastre, Basso, Porte and Maglia Rosa Arroyo still on the course. With Vinokurov finishing at 43.05 just outside the top 5 finishers, and the young Tazmanian Richie Porte a liitle behind him at 43.45 to take 16th place, Arroyo's time of 43.44 saw him remain safely in Pink as Garzelli took Italy's fifth consecutive win on their home Tour.

The final top five at the end were Garzelli, Evans, Gadret, Nibali and Scarponi. The results shook up the GC placings to stand with Arroyo remaining in first place as Basso moved up ahead of Porte, who was shortly followed by Evans in fourth and Sastre in fifth. British rider Wiggins of Sky ended the day in 67th, now out of contension in the race he suggested was a dress rehersal for July's Tour de France. Carpelli (FOT) was the only rider to not make the cut off time, finishing over 11 minutes down on Garzelli.

Stage 17 sees the peloton travel 173 km of more mountains from Brunico to Peio Terme. With one major climb at around 92 km from the finish, the Passa delle Palade which rises to 1523m, the riders will have another day of hard work before the mountain top finish in Peio Terme, before the slighly easier hilly stage 18.

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