LPR rider Danilo Di Luca of Italy, the 2007 champion, won stage four of the Tour of Italy, as Swede Thomas Lovkvist, riding for Team Columbia, took the leader's pink jersey.
REUTERS - Italy's Danilo Di Luca showed the doubters he still has what it takes by snatching victory in the fourth stage of the Giro d'Italia on Tuesday. The 2007 winner lies second overall, two seconds behind new pink jersey holder Thomas Lovkvist of Sweden.
Lance Armstrong, who was in the chasing pack on the punishing last climb, is 28 seconds behind Team Columbia's Lovkvist in sixth spot.
Following an eighth place finish last year, Di Luca had been little talked about in the build-up to the race and was not viewed as a favourite.
However, on the first mountain stage of the three-week race, the LPR rider bided his time and powered his way to victory in four hours 15 minutes and three seconds ahead of compatriots Stefano Garzelli and Franco Pellizotti.
Di Luca, who has asked fellow riders to wear a pink wristband in memory of April's earthquake in his home region of Abruzzo, now aims to knock Armstrong out of contention in Wednesday's stage through the Dolomites.
"We will try, it's difficult," Di Luca told reporters. "It will be a tough, well-contested Giro right until the end.
"I've got to try to get as much of an advantage as possible on my opponents."
The 33-year-old was accused of having abnormal hormone levels during his 2007 triumph by Italy's anti-doping authorities but he cleared his name in April 2008.
Lovkvist grabbed the leader's jersey off LPR's Alessandro Petacchi, who won stages two and three but struggled on Tuesday as he is essentially a sprinter. A bunch of five riders had taken the initiative on the 162-km stage up into the mountains from Padua before the pack became splintered and Di Luca took his chance.
He will try again on Wednesday's 125-km fifth stage to Alpe di Siusi. The race ends in Rome on May 31.
Date created : 2009-05-12