After a week of avoiding crashes and keeping a low profile, Andreas Klöden (Astana) will reluctantly step into the spotlight in Tuesday’s 39.4km individual time trial that will be the 91st Giro d’Italia’s first major litmus test.
The media-shy Klöden will be favorite for the decisive 10th stage as the main contenders for the maglia rosa step up to show their cards after nine nervous and exciting days of racing.
Reigning Tour de France champion Alberto Contador (Astana) has promised to continue riding in the Giro d’Italia, despite learning that he suffered a minor elbow fracture in a crash last Saturday.
"Contador's visit to the radiologist today (Monday) revealed a fissure in the radius head of his left elbow," his Astana team said in a statement on Monday. "The fracture without dislocation stems from his Stage 8 crash from Rivisondoli to Tivoli (on Saturday)."
Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) wants nothing more than to win a stage in the Giro d’Italia wearing the rainbow jersey.
“The Cricket” came close but fell short in 2007, and when he successfully defended the world championship last fall in Stuttgart, one of the first things he said he wanted to do was win in Italy wearing the rainbow stripes.
Bettini, 34, still has some unfinished business after losing in a photo-finish to Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) in a hotly contested sprint in Sunday’s 218km ninth stage from Civitavecchia to San Vicenzo.
Time differences taken at the finish line in Thursday’s sixth stage at the Giro d’Italia stand for now.
Members of the race jury ruled Friday after analyzing photos that a crash involving a police motorcycle just under 1km to go “did not cause a time gap” in the rising finish into the fishing village at Peschici.
Astana team officials said they would meet Saturday morning with the president of the race jury to further discuss the issue. Other teams have also protested the decision to let the time gaps stand.
Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott) ripped to another dramatic victory in Saturday’s 208km eighth stage to prove he’s top dog in the first week of racing in the 91st Giro d’Italia.
Riccò, 24, snagged his second stage in a week by out-kicking world champion Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) at the end of another hilltop finale into Tivoli with Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) taking third.
It was a battle on three fronts in the first mountain stage of the 91st Giro d’Italia, and a preview of the suffering to come.
Up front, Gabriele Bosisio (Team LPR) was the last man standing from a huge mob that peeled away early in the four-climb, 180km romp from Vasto to Pescocostanzo to claim his team’s first Giro stage.
In the middle, Danilo Di Luca (LPR), Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval) and Alberto Contador (Astana) revealed they’ll be contenders after they attacked a lead group of favorites to carry home a 50-second prize over their GC rivals.
For the second day in a row, a breakaway stayed clear of the peloton, with another unsung hero from a smaller team in the form of Matteo Priamo (CSF-Panaria) taking center stage.
Unlike yesterday, the attackers had enough rope to end Franco Pellizotti’s four-day run in the pink jersey. Italian national champion Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) and German Matthias Russ (Gerolsteiner) ended the day tied on time, but Visconti took the maglia rosa based on differences taken in the team time trial.
Riders are at their wits’ end with the seemingly endless string of transfers, delays and hassles associated with the opening days of the 91st Giro d’Italia.
In the first three stages of racing on Sicily, there were no less than 500km of transfers, nearly as much as the peloton has raced.
Tensions came to a head following the botched ferry transfer across the Straits of Messina from Sicily to Italy on Monday evening, when what should have been a 20-minute ferry ride turned into a four-hour odyssey.
Tinkoff’s Pavel Brutt feinted and feigned his way to victory in the final kilometers of a five-man breakaway that held off the chasing peloton by 30 seconds in Wednesday’s fifth stage at the 91st Giro d’Italia.