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Giro d'Italia Stage 20: Kiryienka salutes team mate Xavier Tondo following solo win in Sestriere

Belarus rider remembers late colleague as he takes second Giro win of his career

Vasil Kiryienka of Movistar this afternoon won the second Giro d'Italia stage of his career, pointing skywards as he crossed the line in tribute to his late team mate Xavier Tondo, killed in an accident at home last Monday. Kiryienka had attacked from the front of a 13-man breakaway group ahead of the Colle delle Finestre and increasing his lead on the climb up to Sestriere. Jose Rujano of Androni Giocattoli, winner here the last time the Giro tackled those two ascents in 2005, was second, nearly five minutes behind the Belarus rider, with Joaquin Rodriguez of Katusha finishing third and moving to fifth in the general classification. Alberto Contador has a 5 minute 18 second lead over Michele Scarponi and is set to take his second Giro overall win in Milan tomorrow.

Assuming he suffers no catastrophe tomorrow, Contador has already secured the points jersey, although Scarponi, a distant second to the Spaniard, will sport it in tomorrow’s individual time trial. Stefano Garzelli of Acqua & Sapone, meanwhile, winner of the overall title in 2000, is set to win the green jersey for the mountains classification.

Roman Kreuziger of Astana still wears the white jersey as best young rider, but had to dig deep today to limit his losses to his closest challenger, Steven Kruijswijk of Rabobank.

On a day when the top four places in the general classification remained unaltered, there was a shuffling of the order elsewhere in the top ten, with the big loser being Kanstantsin Sivstov of HTC-Highroad, who dropped from fifth to eleventh in the overall standings.

Despite today’s itinerary featuring two big climbs, race organisers threw in 200km of pretty flat riding first, making this the second longest stage of the 2011 Giro, beaten only by the 244km Stage 2 from Alba to Parma.

Omega Pharma-Lotto’s Sebastian Lang, who during that stage had taken the first intermediate sprint of this year’s race in Salsomaggiore Terme, also took the final one as the race passed through the outskirts of Turin, where the 94th edition of the Giro d’Italia had started three weeks ago.

Today, the German, who on Stage 2 had spent more than 200km on his own ahead of the race, had a dozen other riders for company as he led the escape group through that sprint point with a little under 100km still to ride.

With two exceptions – Kiryienka and Acqua & Sapone rider Carlos Betancourt, who would finish fourth today  – the members of that breakaway were swallowed up by the main bunch one by one as the race headed up the Colle delle Finestre.

There, no fewer than 45 hairpin bends lay in wait for the 159 riders left in this year’s race, with Liquigas-Cannondale setting the pace at the front of the group containing the main overall contenders including their team leader Vincenzo Nibali, third overall.

For the final 8km of that climb, the asphalt road surface gave way to gravel. The last time the Giro headed up here on the way to Sestriere was in 2005, when Paolo Salvodelli just held on to help seal his overall win.

Just as he had done on that penultimate stage of the 2005 race, Rujano, then with Selle Italia Colombia, attacked off the front of the general classification group. Today, only two men were ahead of him – Betancourt, and Kiryienka, the latter cheered on by huge crowds as he crested the summit of the Colle delle Finestre alone.

Approaching the top of the climb, Nibali lost contact with the group containing both the riders ahead of him in the overall standings, Contador and Scarponi. The best descender in this year’s race, the Sicilian managed to rejoin them on the way back down from the summit, although he refrained from attacking again as the road continued to head downhill, saving his strength for the ascent to Sestriere.

On that final climb, Rodriguez attacked to move from eighth to fifth in the general classification, while both Nibali and his former team mate Kreuziger held on grimly to try and lose as little time as possible to their respective rivals.

Just one stage remains of the 2011 Giro, tomorrow’s individual time trial in Milan, which follows a shortened course of 23km from the Milan Fiera international trade fair area at Rho-Pero to Piazza Duomo in front of the city’s cathedral.

Giro d’Italia Stage 20 result

1  KIRYIENKA Vasili            Movistar               6:17:03
2  RUJANO Jose                 Androni Giocattoli        4:43
3  RODRIGUEZ Joaquin           Katusha                   4:50
4  BETANCOURT Carlos           Acqua & Sapone            5:31
5  GADRET John                 AG2R                      5:54
6  SCARPONI Michele            Lampre-ISD                5:58
7  KRUIJSWIJK Steven           Rabobank                  5:58
8  CONTADOR Alberto            Saxo Bank-SunGard         5:58
9  MENCHOV Denis               Geox-TMC                  5:58
10 KREUZIGER Roman             Astana                    6:16
11 NIBALI Vincenzo             Liquigas-Cannondale       6:20
12 DUPONT Hubert               AG2R                      7:17
13 BRAMBILLA Gianluca          Colnago CSF-Inox          7:53
14 SAMOILAU Branislau          Movistar                  8:44
15 TSCHOPP Johann              BMC Racing                8:44
16 JUFRE Josep                 Astana                    8:46
17 NIEVE Mikel                 Euskaltel-Euskadi         8:47
18 SASTRE Carlos               Geox-TMC                  8:47
19 STETINA Peter               Garmin-Cervelo            9:29
20 DE GREEF Francis            Omega Pharma-Lotto        9:30
 Giro d’Italia Overall Standings after Stage 20 
1  CONTADOR Alberto            Saxo Bank-Sungard     83:34:25
2  SCARPONI Michele            Lampre-ISD                5:18
3  NIBALI Vincenzo             Liquigas-Cannondale       6:14
4  GADRET John                 AG2R                      7:49
5  RODRIGUEZ Joaquin           Katusha                   9:27
6  RUJANO Jose                 Androni Giocattoli       10:23
7  KREUZIGER Roman             Astana                   10:38
8  MENCHOV Denis               Geox-TMC                 10:51
9  KRUIJSWIJK Steven           Rabobank                 12:56
10 NIEVE Mikel                 Euskaltel-Euskadi        12:57

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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