Ivan Basso wins Giro d’Italia

Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) collected the final overall victory at the 2010 Giro d’Italia on Sunday as Gustav Erik Larsson (Saxo Bank) won the final stage, a 15km time trial through the streets of Verona.

Larsson, silver medalist in the time trial at the Beijing Games behind Fabian Cancellara, set the early top time of 20:19 and it held up. Basso crossed the line in 21:01 for 15th,  good enough to give him the final maglia rosa of the 2010 Giro.

“This is a great moment for me in my sporting career. I went through a bad moment and now I am back in a good way,” Basso said. “The team protected me 100 percent and had faith that I could win. This is something important we did as a team.”

The course featured a short Category 3 climb in its midsection that reached a maximum of 9 percent at its toughest point. The final kilometer was over bumpy brick roads with some tight corners, and the finish was just outside Verona’s first-century Roman arena; after crossing the line, riders rolled into the arena itself for a parade lap of sorts. Riders left the start house in one-minute intervals, save the top 10, who departed every three minutes.

Larsson on his way to victory - Courtesy Roberto Bettini
Larsson on his way to victory in stage 21 - Courtesy Roberto Bettini

The tifosi nearly got a two-fer on the day — Italian time-trial champ Marco Pinotti (HTC-Columbia) just missed toppling Larsson, turning a time of 20:21, only two seconds slower. Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) hit the line in 20:36 to round out the podium.

That moment of excitement aside, the finale was something of an anticlimax. With the top spot secure barring catastrophe, the only GC battle was between Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) and Michele Scarponi (Androni), who sat third and fourth overall, separated by a single second. Nibali padded that margin by finishing the ITT in 20:42, 12 seconds better than Scarponi.

British champion Bradley Wiggins (Sky), winner of the opening time trial in Amsterdam, couldn’t repeat his winning performance of three weeks previous, crossing the line in 20:48.

World road champ Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team), who also had entertained hopes of winning the stage, finished in 20:41. The rumor mill had it that the Aussie was suffering from an ingrown toenail.

“Basso and Liquigas were too strong for me at this Giro,” said Evans. “I gave my best, but up the Mortirolo, I knew it would be difficult to try to win. Now I have to recover and think about the Tour.”

Vladimir Karpets (Katusha) saw his hopes for a strong finale vanish as he overcooked a right-hand corner and skidded to a stop against the barriers. He didn’t fall, but lost time, finishing 54 seconds down on Larsson.

Stage 21 results

1 Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Team Saxo Bank 0:20:19
2 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team HTC – Columbia 0:00:02
3 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 0:00:17
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:22
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:00:23
6 Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Cervelo Test Team
7 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team 0:00:29
8 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Garmin – Transitions 0:00:32

Final general classification

1 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 87:44:01
2 David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 0:01:51
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:02:37
4 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli 0:02:50
5 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:03:27
6 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Saxo Bank 0:07:06
7 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 0:07:22
8 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test Team