Russia's Denis Menchov survived a fall on a rain-hit final stage to win the Giro d'Italia in dramatic fashion in Rome.The rider looked certain for victory in the world's second biggest stage race with a 20-second lead before Sunday's.
AFP - Russian rider Denis Menchov won the Tour of Italy here on Sunday following the 14.4 kilometres time-trial round.
The Rabobank cyclist - who is the third Russian to win the race - won despite suffering a dramatic fall in the last kilometre of the stage.
Italian 2007 champion Danilo Di Luca finished second with his compatriot Franco Pellizzoti rounding off the podium finishers.
Lithuanian Ignatas Konovalovas of the Cervelo team won the final stage in a time of 18min 42sec with Briton Bradley Wiggins only a second back and Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen in third.
Menchov finished 10th on the stage with Di Luca 16th.
The Russian had a 20sec lead coming into the final day in one of the closest ever finishes to a Giro, in it's centenary year.
Di Luca briefly looked to be on the brink of a famous victory when he got to the first time check fastest of all and 5sec up on Menchov.
But the LPR rider had blasted out too fast, gradually fading from there and he was 14sec down on Menchov at the next time check.
When he came over the line, Di Luca had lost 45sec to Konovalovas whereas Menchov, who had won the 12th stage time-trial to take over the pink jersey last Thursday, was getting stronger.
The Russian looked like he may even win the final time-trial as well but with rain spitting down drama unfolded in the final kilometre.
Riding in a straight line but on a cobbled section, Menchov suddenly crashed with just 1km left to ride.
However quick thinking from his mechanic may have secured him the victory.
As Menchov was still sliding along the wet surface, his mechanic had already jumped out of the team car and was unloading another bike from the roof.
Menchov went to pick up his splayed bike but received a shout from the mechanic and instead jumped straight onto the new one and was back on his way, courtesy of a push from the mechanic as well.
He had been going so well, though, that he still had time to spare on Di Luca and despite the crash he gained 21sec on his rival to win by 41sec overall.
Pellizotti finished just under two minutes down with Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre fourth and seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong 12th.
Date created : 2009-05-31