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Di Luca’s daring dice

Italian Danilo di Luca took a giant step closer to winning the Giro d’Italia Tuesday with a stunning victory in the 262-kilometre 10th stage.

Di Luca chased down breakaway rider Franco Pellizzotti on the steep descent into Pinerolo and his rivals were left for dead with 3.5km to ride.

It all happened on a seemingly innocuous climb called Pra’ Martino, less than 15km from the finsh and all Di Luca’s rivals conceded time to the tiny (1.68m, 61kg) LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini rider.

The result? After covering the stage from Cuneo in 6hr 30min 43sec, he now has a crucial 1min 20sec lead over his closest rival, Denis Menchov of Russia.

‘In fact, I didn’t risk a lot,” Di Luca told Cyclingnews,com. ‘I knew the descent and did it twice yesterday, so I risked what I needed to; three turns were difficult but the rest were without problems. I was actually very careful.’

‘Today was an important point [against] my rivals,’ confirmed Di Luca, “because of my past history [of winning the Giro] in 2007.

“I’m able to be aggressive in stage like today but also on the long climbs. I took ten seconds, but you’re right, but it’s more significant against my rivals and after today, I feel better about my chances for victory.

Meanwhile, seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong appears to be slowly finding his old racing legs.

A great ride by the seven-time Tour de France champion, the 37-year-old Astana rider ended Tuesday’s stage on equal time as sixth placed Maurice Soler (Barloworld) in 13th position, just 29 seconds off Di Luca.

By consequence, he’s now leapfrogged seven places to 18th overall, 5:28 off the maglia rosa’s winning pace. As the leaderboard now stands, to move into the top 10, Armstrong would need to gain almost three and a half minutes on his rivals if the others remained status quo, but with a nasty third week in the mountains, it’s more than feasible.

Soler’s South African teammates both took strain, John-Lee Augustyn dropping more than 20min back to 73rd, 46min 11sec off the pace while Robbie Hunter is now 138th (1:39:01 back)

Said Hunter: ‘So, 7hr 10mins today! The original stage was supposed to be even longer. I’m telling you organisers are crazy some times they think we are machines! I think I deserve that massage tonight!’


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