I'm going to start by tooting my horn a bit here and saying that I'm a fairly handy time trialist.
Furthermore, I'm lucky enough to be riding the finest, fastest, and one of the most heavily sought after time trial machines on the market, the Cervélo P3. That might stir up a lot of questions to the tune of, "Hey when are you going to get the P4?!" Well that's for me to know and you to find out.
Denis Menchov (Rabobank) became the first Russian since Pavel Tonkov to don the maglia rosa after his impressive performance in Thursday’s 60.6km time trial along the Cinque Terre.
The 31-year-old is already a winner of two editions of the Vuelta a España and takes a slender, 20-second lead to Levi Leipheimer (Astana) going into the decisive second half of the 2009 Giro d’Italia.
Menchov spoke to the assembled Giro media following his victory. Here are excerpts from the press conference:
Question: Were the time differences as you expected?
A spectacular 60km course along Italy’s stunning Cinque Terre lived up to expectations Thursday as Denis Menchov (Rabobank) pulled the double, winning the stage and snatching away the maglia rosa from Danilo Di Luca (LPR).
Levi Leipheimer (Astana) – who had won three time trials in three starts this season ? almost walked away with the jackpot, finishing just 20 seconds slower than Menchov and climbing into third overall at 40 seconds back.
With the centennial edition of the Giro d’Italia at its halfway point, and with less than three minutes covering the top 10 riders on GC, doing well in Thursday’s ultra-tough Cinque Terre time trial is the key to overall victory. But besides the expected challenges to Danilo Di Luca’s pink jersey by Denis Menchov (Rabobank), Michael Rogers (Columbia-Highroad), Levi Leipheimer (Astana) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas), a handful of other TT specialists will by vying for the prestigious stage win.
While doing Live Updates during the Giro d’Italia this past week, I am pleased to see that our new update tool offers readers the chance to chime in with questions during our coverage. We do get to read all of them and I often try to include some of them during our coverage. Unfortunately, I can’t answer all of them personally. But there are some pretty interesting questions posed and I thought I’d use this week’s column to answer some of the more common questions I’ve received over the last few days.
When there’s a race against the clock, Fabian Cancellara is usually the man to beat.
But the reigning Olympic time trial champion just laughed when asked by VeloNews if he was a favorite for Thursday’s climb-heavy race against the clock along the Cinque Terre coast.
“No, it’s a crazy course. I won the Olympics, but what we have on the map tomorrow is crazy,” the Saxo Bank rider said. “This is more like a cyclo-tourist event. It’s pretty from Sestri Levante to Cinque Terre, it’s nice for the show, but I think a time trial of 1 hour, 40 minutes is a bit crazy.”
Is Lance Armstrong boycotting the assembled media at the Giro d’Italia?
Astana team officials say that’s not the case, but the seven-time Tour de France champion is playing hard-to-get for journalists covering the centenary edition of the corsa rosa.
“It’s not a boycott, but he’s not happy with what the Italians wrote about him: that he was the instigator of the protest on Sunday,” Astana team spokesman Philippe Maertens told VeloNews. “From now on, Lance said he wants to focus on the race and help Levi to try to win the Giro.”
Mark Cavendish (Columbia-High Road) couldn’t help himself when the 11th stage of the Giro d’Italia hit the coast road that leads down the Italian Riviera and toward the finish line of greatest glory of his young, but prolific career at Milan-San Remo.
The pack hit the Via Aurelia after a revived Lance Armstrong led the peloton down the Passo di Turchino at full speed ahead toward Arenzano.
As we near the summit of the mountain the speed increases.
The peloton passes the one-kilometer to go sign, riders suddenly burst out of their saddles to hold the wheel in front, no longer able to maintain the speed while seated.
Over the race radio we are told the descent is dangerous and that we should race for the front of the peloton to avoid crashes and take fewer risks. Every director in the motorcade behind gives the same command, which lifts the pelotons’ speed and creates instantaneous nervousness in the group.
Ted King is making quite the impression with his Cervélo TestTeam in his grand tour debut.
Cervélo sport director Jean-Paul Van Poppel said the team is pleased with how the 26-year-old from New Hampshire is holding up midway through the Giro d’Italia.
“Ted is doing fine. He’s a good team worker and we’re really happy with him,” Van Poppel said. “He has a fantastic attitude. He’s a well-mannered American boy. He’s pretty quiet, but you can tell he pays attention and he’s learning. There’s no better education for a young rider like him than a stage race.”