Giro d'Italia

Team complete gruelling Giro

DS Yates praises team spirit throughout the race

By Jonathan Turner   Last updated: 30th May 2011

Thomas Löfkvist finished in 21st overall at the end of a demanding Giro d'Italia which was won by Alberto Contador.

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Contador (Saxo Bank Sungard) sealed a second Giro as Britain's David Millar won the final time trial in Milan.

Garmin-Cervélo rider Millar was out relatively early but his time of 30 minutes and 13 seconds for the 26 kilometres course proved beyond the rest of the field. Alex Rasmussen (HTC-Highroad) came closest but had to settle for second place, seven seconds behind.

But the day - and the race - belonged to Contador and for a moment it looked as if he was going to finish in perfect style as he was a second up on Millar at the first intermediate time check.

However he was down to third at the second checkpoint and that was where he remained, 36 seconds back, as he crossed the line in celebration and waving to the crowd.

It was Contador's sixth Grand Tour success, with three Tours de France and one Vuelta a España also on his palmarès.

The Spaniard controlled the race from the moment he surged away from the field to win stage nine on Mount Etna and take over the leader's maglia rosa. He also triumphed on stage 16 and ended the three-week event six minutes and 10 seconds ahead of Lampre's Michele Scarponi, with Liquigas' Vincenzo Nibali a further 46 seconds back in third.

To underline his dominance Contador also walked off with the points jersey and finished second in the mountains classification behind Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone).

For Team Sky Löfkvist was their leading rider on the overall in 21st, with Dario Cioni their highest-placed man in the concluding time trial in 39th.

It was a low-key end to the race but eight of the nine riders made it to the finish in Milan, Davide Appollonio the one exception after he pulled out following his excellent second place behind Mark Cavendish on the final sprint stage.

Sticking together

We caught up with Sports Director Sean Yates afterwards to get his view on the race as a whole and he told us: "It was always going to be a tough one for the guys in our team who were riding their first Grand Tour but it proved a great experience for them and an important mark in their careers.

"As far as the GC was concerned I thought that if things went really, really well for Thomas then he could possibly get a top 10 but it just didn’t turn out that way. He wasn’t able to perform at the level needed for a top 10 and part of that was down to his illness – when you are climbing massive mountains in a Grand Tour, not being 100% clearly isn’t going to help you and that put a bit of a dampener on things in terms of the overall picture.

"But having said that, all the team have stuck by Thomas and done their absolute maximum for him from day one until the final mountain stage yesterday. For me that is a real positive thing to take out of it. They worked very well as a team, always kept together and morale on the bus was always good.

"There were plenty of gritty performances – Russell for example went down that cliff on Friday yet picked himself up and battled right to the end. And it was the same elsewhere in the team, they stuck to their guns throughout.

"The highlight results-wise was Davide’s sprinting. We’ve obviously known for a while that he was pretty good but he’s really stepped up here and it was a major boost for his confidence when he got that second place to Cav. It surely won’t be long before he wins races for us."

Learning to suffer

Peter Kennaugh just edged Appollonio as Team Sky's youngest rider in the race, with the 21-year-old from the Isle of Man completing a Grand Tour for the first time. He was the highest-placed Briton in the race too, in 87th.

En route to the airport for a well-earned rest, Kennaugh illustrated the testing nature of the three weeks perfectly when he said: "“It’s hard to sum it all up and explain at the moment. I’m tired and the body is wrecked. I’m looking forward to going home and just spending a few days chilling out.

“Maybe in a few weeks time I’ll be able to look back on it and realise what I’ve achieved but at the moment my head’s just spinning.

“I tried to do the TT properly today but after 5k I was just wrecked. My body just stopped working and I just had to get to the line. I think if anything on this Tour I’ve learnt how to suffer."

User comments (3)

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Mike Hogan says...

A new contract for Russ Mr B or my Sky box go`s back.

Posted 10:35 30th May 2011

Bev Smerklo says...

well done guys...looked a brutal Giro.

Posted 20:51 29th May 2011

Jim Tarvet says...

So impressed by Russell Downing's performance in his first major Tour. Just begs the questions what would he be like if he was a pro earlier?

Posted 19:30 29th May 2011

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