Sprinter André Greipel of the HTC-Columbia team must feel like he's been through hell in the mountains over the last days and worse than that must have been watching his team mate and rival Mark Cavendish winning in California but with the help of his peerless lead out train, and Sky's, he finally got his win today.
The mostly flat 156 km stage to Brescia had Greipel's name all over it but that didn't stop Team Sky having a very good go with their man Greg Henderson. However, not only was HTC's danger man sitting on Henderson's wheel with 200m to go but another New Zealander Julian Dean (Garmin-Transitions) who galloped past for 2nd and Tiziano dall'Antonia who showed the depth of the Liquigas-Doimo team by grabbing 3rd. Henderson had to settle for 4th.
A two man break consisting of Oliver Kaisen (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Alan Marangoni (Colnago-CSF Inox) attacked and stayed away since kilometre 21 but the combined might of the teams with fancied sprinters weren't going to miss their last opportunity for glory before all it all goes horrible again in the mountains tomorrow. Marangoni survived until within 2 km of the finish line but Bradley Wiggins (Sky) was at terminal velocity as he led the peleton by in a streak.
The overall is unchanged with David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne) in the lead with a 2:27 advantage over Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) and 2:44 over Richie Porte (Saxo Bank).
Back in the high mountains tomorrow, the organisers have a plan in place to divert the race in case the sheer weight of standing snow - to a depth of six metres in places - causes problems at the finish.
Giro d'Italia Stage 18 Top 20 Result
1 GREIPEL Andre GER THR 3:14:59 bonus 20" 2 DEAN Julian NZL GRM bonus 12" 3 DALL'ANTONIA Tiziano ITA LIQ bonus 8" 4 HENDERSON Greg NZL SKY 5 HONDO Danilo GER LAM 6 BROWN Graeme AUS RAB 7 HAEDO Lucas Sebastian ARG SAX 8 ELIJZEN Michiel NED OLO 9 SABATINI Fabio ITA LIQ 10 BONNET William FRA BTL 11 HINAULT Sebastien FRA ALM 12 DONATI Alessandro ITA ASA 13 ARASHIRO Yukiya JPN BTL 14 POZZATO Filippo ITA KAT 15 VELO Marco ITA QST 16 FORSTER Robert GER MRM 17 CLAUDE Mathieu FRA BTL 18 ARROYO David ESP GCE 19 LASTRAS GARCIA Pablo ESP GCE 20 BODNAR Maciej POL LIQ all same time
Giro d'Italia 2010 Overall Top 20
1 ARROYO David ESP GCE 0:00 2 BASSO Ivan ITA LIQ at 2:27 3 PORTE Richie AUS SAX at 2:44 4 EVANS Cadel AUS BMC at 3:09 5 SASTRE Carlos ESP CTT at 4:41 6 NIBALI Vincenzo ITA LIQ at 4:53 7 VINOKOUROV Alexandre KAZ AST at 5:12 8 SCARPONI Michele ITA AND at 5:24 9 CUNEGO Damiano ITA LAM at 9:21 10 KISERLOVSKI Robert CRO LIQ at 9:32 11 PINOTTI Marco ITA THR at 10:28 12 EFIMKIN Alexander RUS ALM at 10:59 13 GERDEMANN Linus GER MRM at 11:36 14 CATALDO Dario ITA QST at 14:10 15 KARPETS Vladimir RUS KAT at 14:34 16 MOLLEMA Bauke NED RAB at 15:24 17 GADRET John FRA ALM at 21:07 18 ARDILA Mauricio COL RAB at 23:22 19 CIONI Dario David ITA SKY at 23:48 20 DE GREEF Francis BEL OLO at 28:37