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British time trial champion beats Wiggins by 10 seconds to take a huge breakthrough win in the Giro's long time trial while Vincezo Nibali takes the maglia rosa

Photo: Sirotti

ALEX DOWSETT

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GIRO D'ITALIA

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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VINCENZO NIBALI

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11.05.2013 @ 17:37 Posted by Henriette Brandt

British time trial champion Alex Dowsett (Movistar) took an impressive win in the hugely anticipated 54,8km time trial in the Giro d'Italia as he held off compatriot and big favourite Bradley Wiggins (Sky). Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) did the time trial of his life to finish 4th, took over the overall lead and only lost 11 seconds to Wiggins.

 

When Alex Dowsett won the British time trial championships last year, most people wrote it down to the fact that his then-captain and defending champion Bradley Wiggins chose not to defend his title. In today's 54,8km time trial in the Giro d'Italia we showed, however, than is fully capable of beating the Olympic champion in the discipline.

 

Being way down in the general classification the Movistar rider had an early start but he immediately showed that he was on fire. Passing all intermediate checks in pole position he finished in a time of 1.16.27 to beat then-leader Jesse Sergent (Radioshack) by no less than two minutes.

 

A long wait ensued for the British rider and when Wiggins rolled down the ramp at 15.08, he was probably prepared to lose his lead. As it was the case yesterday the Brit did, however, once again show that he is certainly not comfortable on the technical descents in the very winding first part of the course.

 

His incredible run of bad luck continued when he had a rear wheel puncture after less than 20 minutes of racing. The subsequent bike change was quick but there is no doubt that the incident cost him some time. However, it could not be the only explanation of his huge time loss in the early part of the course and when he crossed the line at the first intermediate check, he had lost no less than 52 seconds to Dowsett. Actually, he was behind both of his Colombian domestiques Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Uran who both excelled in the technical first part of the course and ended up finishing 9th and 12th respectively.

 

Wiggins recovered in the second part of the course whose flat nature was much more suited to the pure specialists. While he was not able to gain time on Dowsett and even lost a further 7 seconds to his compatriot, he was fifth at the second intermediate check just at the bottom of the final nasty climb up to the finish line.

 

The Brit had saved some power for that last sting in the tail and he went up the ascent no less than 49 seconds faster than Dowsett. However, he crossed the finish line 10 seconds too late and had to settle for second on a day where his puncture probably cost him his lead.

 

Dowsett got increased confidence when he saw most of the general classification riders pass the first intermediate check way behind the Brit. For a long time a resurgent Cadel Evans (BMC) was closest but the Australian had still lost 22 seconds to the time trial specialist.

 

Dowsett got a scare when Vincenzo Nibali crossed the line as the penultimate rider as the Italian had used his formidable bike handling skills on the technical part to move into first position 8 seconds ahead of the Brit. As race leader maglia rosa crossed the line already 1.05 behind, it shaped up as a battle between Nibali, Dowsett and possibly Evans.

 

However, the second portion of the course was a long, straight road for the specialists where Dowsett could fully express his talents. Both Evans and Nibali faded in that section and at the second intermediate check they were now 9th and 6th respectively and were both more than a minute behind Dowsett. Despite the final climb there was now little doubt that Dowsett would emerge as the day's winner.

 

Both GC riders sprinted up the final ascent - Evans was even the fastest of all riders in that part of the course - but neither was able to take back the time needed to take the stage win. Nibali ended up 4th while Evans was 6th but more crucially they had managed to limit their losses to Wiggins 11 and 29 seconds respectively.

 

As Benat Intxausti finished way off the pace in 41st, Nibali's performance was enough to take over the maglia rosa and he is now 29 seconds ahead of Evans and 1.15 ahead of Robert Gesink (Blanco) who once again underlined his great improvement in the discipline by taking 11th on the day. Wiggins is now 4th a further second behind.

 

Another of the stage's big winners was 2011 Giro champion Michele Scarponi. The Lampre rider used the first technical part and the final climb to finish in a hugely encouraging 10th place. He is now 5th overall and had it not been for his unfortunate crash in stage 3, he would now have been 3rd and very close to the maglia rosa.

 

In addition to Intxausti two of the big losers were defending champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel). Both finished way off the pace and are now 6th and 15th in the GC respectively. Both are more than two minutes behind Nibali and will have to attack in the mountains if they want to realistically contend for the podium.

 

Nibali will now start a tough defence of his lead and he got a solid indication of the kind of team support he can expect. The Estonian all-rounder Tanel Kangert once again put his time trial strength on display and he finished a formidable third behind the British duo of Dowsett and Wiggins.

 

A number of the time trial specialist disappointed on the tough course. Much was expected from Taylor Phinney (BMC) and Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) but both have been sick in recent days and they paid dearly for their poor health condition. While the Swede had a respectable performance to finish in the top 20, the American was far off the pace and lost more than 5 minutes to Dowsett.

 

The race continues tomorrow with a tough 170km stage to Firenze. The route will take the riders up to more than 1000m of altitude in the Appennines before descending to the big Tuscan city. The peloton will briefly touch the course of this year's world championships in another hard day that seems tailormade for a strong breakaway.

 

Starting at 14.15 you can follow the action on CyclingQuotes.com/live.

 

Result:

1 Alex Dowsett - Movistar 1.16.27 
2 Bradley Wiggins - Sky 0.10 
3 Tanel Kangert - Astana 0.14 
4 Vicenzo Nibali - Astana 0.21 
5 Steffen Clement - Blanco 0.32 
6 Luke Durbridge - Orica-GreenEdge 0.35 
7 Cadel Evans - BMC 0.39 
8 Manuele Boaro - Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0.45 
9 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya - Sky 0.53 
10 Michele Scarponi - Lampre-Merida 0.53 

 

General classification:

1 Vincenzo Nibali - Astana 29.46.57
2 Cadel Evans - BMC 0.29
3 Robert Gesink - Blanco 1.15
4 Bradley Wiggins - Sky 1.16
5 Michele Scarponi - Lampre-Merida 1.24
6 Ryder Hesjedal - Garmin-Sharp 2.05
7 Sergio Henao - Sky 2.11
8 Mauro Santambrogio 2.43
9 Przemyslaw Niemiec - Lampre-Merida 2.44
10 Rigoberto Uran Uran - Sky 2.49

 

 

Points classification:

1. Mark Cavendish 58

2. Elia Viviani 52

3. Cadel Evans 49

4. Enrico Battaglin 45

5. Adam Hansen 39

 

Mountains classification:

1. Giovanni Visconti 14

2. Emanuele Sella 13

3. Stefano Pirazzi 12

4. Adam Hansen 12

5. Robinson Chalapud 9

 

Youth classification:

1. Wilco Kelderman 29.50.23

2. Rafal Majka  +0.43

3. Fabio Aru +1.05

4. Carlos Betancur +2.42

5. Diego Rosa +5.13

 

Teams classification:

1. Astana 88.40.51

2. Blanco +0.34

3. Sky +2.06

4. Lampre +4.55

5. Movistar +8.05

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