Lovkvist Takes 2009 Giro d'Italia Lead
Thomas Lövkvist has recaptured the race lead of the Giro d'Italia 2009 for Columbia-Highroad, just 24 hours after a crash saw teammate Mark Cavendish losing the number one spot overall. Cavendish had said on Monday that he hoped Columbia-Highroad would regain the lead quickly through one of his teammates, and in the Tour of Italy’s first summit finish at San Martino di Castrozza, Lovkvist did exactly that. Seventh in the draw-out sprint for the line among approximately 40 riders, Lovkvist now leads overall by two seconds over stage winner Danilo Di Luca of Italy.
Columbia-Highroad has now led the Giro d’Italia for three out of the four stages held so far. “ I was working for Mick [Michael Rogers] and trying to keep him in a good position on the final climb,” Lovkvist explained. “But when [other riders] crashed in front of Mick, I avoided it and just followed the wheels. It would have been either him or me in the lead. The important thing was that the team got the jersey. I don’t know if I’ll keep the lead, but everything’s possible. I felt good on this climb and tomorrow’s another mountain top finish. We’ll see if I’m there at the finish.”
The 25-year old from Sweden added, “I was ready to work for Michael today because I knew he’d help me. There’s a good team spirit in the squad and it’s all about give and take.”
Already the winner of the Eroica one-day race in Italy this year, Lovkvist pointed out that “I’m progressing every year, and hopefully this will be my best year ever. When I get to Rome, we’ll see how far I have gotten. Of course I’ve won races before, but to be in the pink jersey is one of the best moments so far of my career.”
Overall, Columbia-Highroad is in a very strong position going into the second stage in the Dolomites, with Lovkvist leading and teammate Michael Rogers third overall, just six seconds back. Lovkvist is also leading the Best Young Riders competition, while Columbia-Highroad is in the number one spot in the teams prize.
“It’s great to have the pink jersey back,” added team manager Bob Stapleton. “We hoped to be really competitive in the first week and then hunt stages as well. Thanks to winning the team time trial we had three guys well placed overall, but it’s easier when you’ve got this much talent. The guys pay attention to what’s happening in the race and work well together. That gives us an advantage.”