While my attention has mostly been focused on events in the Himalaya over the past week or so, in Italy one of the classic cycling races continues to unfold, with some great riders jockeying for the lead and the famed maglia rosa or pink jersey, that goes to the top rider in the Giro d’Italia.
Today was Stage 12, a time trial that ran from Sestri Levante to Riomaggiore, covering 60km (37 miles) through a technical and demanding course, up and down rolling hills and tested the riders at every turn. Heading into the day, Italian Danilo Di Luca had been riding in the pink jersey since Stage 5, but most felt that he couldn’t hold on to it in a race against the top time trialists in the world. That proved to be true, but not as expected, as Di Luca did lose the jersey, but stayed within striking distance none the less.
At the end of the day, Russian Denis Menchov took the time trial, and the lead in the race. He now stands 34 seconds ahead of Di Luca, who now rides in second place, with American Levi Leipheimer just six second behind, and 40 seconds off the leader. There is some pretty heavy competition still within reach of the Giro title however, with guys like Franco Pellizotti, Carlos Sastre, Michael Rogers and Ivan Basso all within three minutes of the lead, and the roughest riding yet to come.
Tomorrow’s stage will begin at the sea of Lido di Camaiore, near Tuscany and will proceed for 176km (109 miles) along the Mediterranean Coast to Florence. The course will be extremely flat and fast, with only one decent climb all day The sprinters are likely to have a field day, because after this, there will be no more sprint stages.
And in case you’re wondering, Lance is riding in 12th place overall, more than six minutes off the pace, but nearly everyone says that he is improving steadily.
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