Dowsett Takes Maiden Win in Giro ITT; Nibali Takes Maglia Rosa
The 24-year-old notched his victory by powering over the rolling 54.8-km course from Gabicce Mare to Saltara in 1:16:27. Bradley Wiggins (Sky) finished second at 0:10, and Karel Tangert (Astana) took third at 0:14. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) took the maglia rosa.
Maxim Belkov (Katusha) set the early standard with a 1:21:32. Twenty minutes after the Russian crossed the finish line, Jesse Sergeant (RadioShack-Leopard) obliterated Belkov's time with a 1:18:27. Dowsett then took the lead by bettering Sergeant's time by two minutes.
A number of riders came close to Dowsett's time. Australian time trial champion Luke Durbridge (GreenEdge) posted a 1:17:02, and Manuele Boaro (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) posted a 1:17:12, and Stef Clement (Blanco) rode the course in 1:16:59.
Before Wiggins, however, no rider would come closer to Dowsett than Tangert. The Estonian was 0:26 slower than the Briton at the 26-km and 51-km checkpoints. He made up time on the final, uphill part of the course but fell 0:14 short of the lead.
Wiggins was the first of the overall contenders to start. The Olympic time trial champion lost time early on when he punctured and needed a new bike. At the first checkpoint, he was 0:52 behind Dowsett and was 1:01 in arrears at the second. The Tour de France champion made up a lot of time on the climb to the finish to yield only 0:10 to his compatriot.
Many of the contenders had good days. Nibali finished fourth at 0:21 to move into first overall. Cadel Evans (BMC) took seventh to move up to second. Wiggins's performance lifted him from 23rd to fourth. Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) went from 13th to fifth, although he lost time to the maglia rosa.
Two GC aspirants did not have good days. Defending champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) finished 18th at 2:23. The Canadian said that he is satisfied with his performance, but he cannot be happy about dropping from third at 0:08 to sixth at 2:05.
Another GC possibility who fell off of the pace today was Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi). The Spaniard dropped from ninth at 0:52 to 15th at 3:43. Sanchez's GC hopes are gone, and he will have to satisfy himself with stage hunting.
Dowsett was almost clinical about his victory. "For me, the race was about doing what I do," he said. I was catching a lot of riders. It was like a carrot on a stick for me, although I knew a lot of them were taking it easy. The wait was horrible. There were three standout moments: One, when Kangert came in very close to my time. Two, when I was up on Wiggins at the split, although I knew he'd improve. And three, with Nibali, when I knew the reverse would happen. I knew he'd be good in the twisty start, but I'd be better on the later, power sections, and that was how it went."
In the overall, Nibali leads Evans by 0:29 and Robert Gesink (Blanco) by 1:15. Stage 9, a hilly, 170-km ride from Sansepolcro to Firenze, will feature the Category 2 ascent of Passo della Consuma at 81.8 km, the Category 1 Vallombrosa at 106.7 km (the first Category 1 climb of this year's Giro d'Italia), the Category 3 Vetta le Croci at 147.9 km, and the Category 4 Fiesole at 159.3 km. With a time trial behind the riders and a rest day ahead of them, it adds up to a breakaway by stage hunters taking this one. Who will be in the break? Who will win? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!