CASTELFIDARDO, Italy (VN) – Two names are hovering in the top 5 going into the final decisive battleground of the 2011 Giro d’Italia. They would surpass expectations if they’re still there when the Giro ends in Milano, and each promises to go down fighting.
Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervélo) and Kanstantsin Sivtsov (HTC-Highroad) have been among the early surprises of the 2011 Giro.
Sivtsov is second overall at 59 seconds back while Le Mevel made a daring raid Wednesday for the pink jersey and actually slipped from third to fourth, now at 1:28, after losing a few seconds on the final run to the finish line.
For Le Mevel, who’s been hovering in the top 5 for a week, the risk was worth it. He stormed into the day’s main breakaway and momentarily held the “virtual” pink jersey. The main pack never let the break get more than about two minutes, however, and the effort eventually failed.
“Today I attacked to try to win the pink jersey. It wasn’t planned, but I knew this was my last chance to try to get it. Tomorrow is a sprint stage and then we’re in the big mountains where Contador and Nibali will be winning the jersey,” Le Mevel said at the line. “I’ve been close, so close. I’ve been trying every day. I really want this pink jersey but this pink jersey does not want me.”
Le Mevel said he talked to Saxo Bank’s Richie Porte before the stage and the Aussie told him that Contador would let the jersey ride away. The Frenchman took his chance and even snagged a four-second bonus mid-race, but the other teams behind started to work.
Le Mevel knows he won’t win this Giro, but he wanted at least a few days in pink.
“I think the other teams behind did not want me to get more than two minutes. I think Saxo Bank was happy to get the jersey, but the others behind are still fighting for the podium or a top-5, a top-10, so the interests of the other teams worked against me today,” Le Mevel said. “I am feeling good during this Giro. Maybe I can still fight for a top-10, but I really wanted that pink jersey. It’s too bad.”
Like Le Mevel, Sivtsov is getting his first taste of riding as a GC captain in a grand tour. HTC-Highroad brought a mixed squad to the Giro, with riders to help Mark Cavendish in the sprints for the first half of the race and others, such as Craig Lewis and Marco Pinotti, who can help Sivtsov in the mountains.
So far, the Belorussian, who won the Tour de Georgia in 2008, says he’s had no major problems and he hopes to carry his momentum into the northern mountain stages.
“Up to now, everything has been going well. When Contador attacked on Etna, I knew it would be a mistake to try to go with him. I came into this Giro with ambitions of finishing in the top-10, so now I am doing even better than I thought possible,” Sivtsov told VeloNews. “I have been close to the pink jersey. I would like to get it for a few days, but I know Contador is strong. And there are very hard mountains to come. It will be difficult.”