Denis Menchov is well aware of the meaning of the word “sweat”, since back in 2009, when the Russian won his only Corsa Rosa, he had to use every drop, right up to the very last kilometre of the very last stage, the 14.4 km time trial of the Imperial Fora in Rome, risking throwing away the most beautiful triumph of his career.
In fact, after a tight head-to-head battle with Danilo Di Luca which had lasted since the very first stages of that Giro, Menchov had arrived in Rome with a 20-second margin over the Abruzzese rider. Therefore, he knew that he had the Rosa in his grasp, given that he was a much better time trialist than his rival, proving that just a few days earlier in Riomaggiore. Di Luca’s only chance was for something to happen to the Russian, and something did indeed happen. The race was heavily conditioned by the rain and, less than a thousand metres from his triumph, Menchov slipped on the wet cobblestones, falling ruinously to the ground. Fortunately for him, however, he did not suffer any serious physical consequences, got back up, still managed to finish 21 seconds ahead of Di Luca and took home the Giro.
Famous was his liberating shout after crossing the finish line, as if to say “I even beat Lady Luck“. “Even after the crash I managed to remain calm despite everything,” Menchov said. “I knew I was well ahead and therefore had time to recover. I am overjoyed, it was a spectacular three weeks: it is the most important victory of my career“.
That time trial was thus dominated by the riders who took to the road in the early part of the day, as the road was much drier: Lithuanian Ignatas Konovalovas took stage win, one second ahead of Bradley Wiggins and seven ahead of Edvald Boasson Hagen.