Gontchar Wins Giro Time Trial; Popovych Takes Maglia Rosa
Sergei Gontchar (De Nardi) has won Stage 13 of the Giro. The former world champion time trialist powered over the rolling, 52-km time trial course from Trieste to Altopiano Carsico to win in 1:06:45. Brad McGee (La Francaise des Jeux.com) finished second at 0:18, and Yaroslav Popovych (Landbouwkrediet) took third at 0:34. Popovych is the new maglia rosa.
Magnus Backstedt (Alessio) set the early standard with a 1:08:37, but the Swede did not remain the leader for long. Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval) beat his mark by 0:20. Marzio Bruseghin (Fassa Bortolo) then destroyed Bertogliati's time with a 1:07:29.
McGee posted the fastest time at the first time check, but he did not take a lot of time out of the Italian until he reached the flatter, faster sections later in the course. The Australian took the stage lead with a 1:07:13.
Before the stage, Gontchar was tipped as a man to beat in this time trial, and he did not disappoint. He was 0:04 behind McGee at the first time check, but the Ukrainian stormed ahead to take the stage lead at the finish. Popovych, Gontchar's compatriot and friend, figured to give Gontchar a run for his money, but he came up half a minute short. The stage was ridden in the rain, and all of the competitors complained that the weather impeded them.
The stage was a bad one for Saeco. Damiano Cunego, who began the day as the maglia rosa, lost 3:02 and is finished as a contender for overall victory. Gilberto Simoni crashed and finished 15th at 2:31. The defending champion is fourth overall at 1:27.
Cunego and Simoni were not the day's only losers. Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola) finished 13th at 2:30. Some of the heads of state have a lot of catching up to do in the Dolomites.
In the overall, Popovych leads Gontchar by 0:03 and McGee by 1:02. Stage 14 will not change this state of affairs. The rolling, 175-km run from Trieste to Pola should end in a bunch sprint. Will anyone stop Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) from taking it? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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