Saturday, May 30, 2009

Gilbert claims Giro stage victory

Belgium's Philippe Gilbert won the penultimate stage of the Giro d'Italia as Russia's Denis Menchov held on to the overall leader's pink jersey.

The Belgium cyclist earned victory ahead of France's Thomas Voeckler and Stefano Garzelli of Italy after a two-way sprint following a late breakaway.

Gilbert clocked four hours, 30 minutes and seven seconds over the 203 kilometre leg from Naples to Anagni.

The Giro d'Italia ends on Sunday with a 14.4 km individual time trial in Rome.

Gilbert sprang away from the bunch in the final 2km on a slight climb and held off the challenge of Voeckler.

With bonus seconds for the first three finishers, second overall Danilo Di Luca was expected to attack Menchov at the end.

But he ran out of team-mates to help him in a speedy finish.

And Menchov actually pinched two more seconds on Di Luca in an early bonus sprint to increase his lead by 20 seconds ahead of Sunday's final stage.

Following the race Di Luca all but conceded defeat in his chances of catching Menchov.

"I think now it's really impossible because the time trial is a test that's better suited to him than me," he said.

"That means that I'll come second but that's not a problem for me because I'm convinced I've raced a great Giro d'Italia.

"I've no regrets because I always tried to attack. So I'm satisfied."

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