Gonzalez Wins Giro's First Time Trial
Aitor Gonzalez (Fassa Bortolo) has won the first time trial of this year's Giro. The 2002 Vuelta winner blazed through a flat, 42.5-km course from Merano to Bolzano to win Stage 15 in 54:33. Magnus Backstedt (Team Fakta) was second at 0:51, and Sergei Gontchar (De Nardi) was third at 1:22. Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) remains the maglia rosa.
Backstedt set the early standard. The Swede rode the course in 55:24. His time went unchallenged by everyone except Gonzalez. That, however, does not mean that the time trial lacked drama, because the GC contenders had things to fight for.
Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) began the day in fifth and stood to move up because he is a good time trialist. The Lithuanian remained in fifth, though, in part because he punctured his front tire. He lost 1:03 to Yaroslav Popovych (Landbouwkrediet), who rode himself into third place overall.
Runner-up Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola) figured to gain time on Simoni, who is a mediocre time trialist. At the first time check at 10 km, Garzelli led Simoni by 0:19. Simoni rallied, however, and outrode the Vini Caldirola rider by 0:39.
In the overall, Simoni leads Garzelli by 1:58 and Popovych by 4:05. Stage 16 will not change that state of affairs. The flat, 207-km run from Arco to Pavia should end in a bunch sprint. Who will win it? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!
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