Vincenzo Nibali gave home fans cause for celebration when the Giro d’Italia resumed on Italian roads this afternoon, taking the race leader’s maglia rosa from Astana’s Alexandre Vinokourov after a storming performance from Liquigas-Doimo in a 33 kilometre Team Time Trial from Savilgiano to Cuneo.
Nibali was only called up to his team's squad for the race last week, and had been staying in Sicily with his uncle and aunt when the call came through telling him that he would be replacing the suspended Franco Pellizotti. Team-mate Ivan Basso now lies second in the overall standings, 13 seconds behind.
Team Sky had seemed poised to win the stage after posting a time of 36 minutes 50 seconds, and also put up the fastest intermediate time of the stage, and the pain of the British outfit’s efforts were etched on the faces of the five remaining riders who crossed the line together, with their time for the stage based on the fifth rider home.
That seemed set to be the fastest time of the afternoon until Liquigas-Doimo put in a blistering second half to the stage to come home 13 seconds ahead of Team Sky, who finished second.
There was disappointment, too, for David Millar, who started the day just a second behind overall leader Alexandre Vinokourov and was seeking to become only the third British rider after Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins to wear the maglia rosa. That would also have made the Scot the first cyclist from these shores to have donned the leader's jersey in all three of cycling's Grand Tours.
But with his Garmin-Transitions team missing Christian Vande Velde, who abandoned after breaking his collarbone on Tuesday’s Stage 3, Millar’s chance of wearing pink had already disappeared by the time he crossed the line in Cuneo, 36 seconds behind Team Sky with a further four teams including riders near the top of the overall standings having already posted a quicker time.
Tomorrow's Stage 5 commemorates the great Fausto Coppi 50 years after his death by finishing in his home town of Novi Ligure.
Stage 4: Giro d'Italia Team Time Trial
1) Liquigas-Doimo 0:36:37 2) Sky Professional Cycling Team 0:00:13 3) Team HTC-Columbia 0:00:21 4) Team Katusha 0:00:27 5) Cervélo TestTeam 0:00:38 6) Astana 7) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:46 8) Garmin-Transitions 0:00:49 9) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:50 10) Team Milram 0:00:57 11) Rabobank 0:01:04 12) BMC Racing Team 0:01:21 13) Lampre-Farnese Vini 0:01:43 14) Footon-Servetto 0:02:03 15) Colnago-CSF Inox 0:02:08 16) Quick Step 0:02:14 17) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 0:02:19 18) Caisse d'Epargne 0:02:21 19) Androni Giocattoli 0:02:24 20) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne 0:02:28 21) Acqua & Sapone 0:02:39 22) Ag2R-La Mondiale 0:02:50
Brief General Classification Giro d'Italia Stage 4
1) Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) 10:44:00 2) Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) 0:00:13 3) Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas-Doimo) 0:00:20 4) André Greipel (Team HTC - Columbia) 0:00:26 5) Matthew Harley Goss (Team HTC - Columbia) 6) Alexander Vinokourov(Astana) 0:00:33 7) Vladimir Karpets (Team Katusha) 0:00:39
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.