Today’s Gazzetta here in Cesano Maderno has Emanuele Sella’s little face smiling out at us with a headline that makes a play on his name: “S(T)ELLA” = star. Life is so much easier when Germans don’t win stages! Inside, a headline says; “Bruseghin da podio. Di Luca si arrende.“:  I ask our hotelier what ‘arrende’ means; he slumps his shoulders, drops his arms to his side, puts his head to one side and let’s his tongue hang out – yes, we can understand the translation.

Sella apart (on a 9 out of 10) the Gazzetta isn’t fullsome with stars for the other Italian riders, whilst Bert gets 8. Simoni gets 7 for his fruitless attack, Bruz is on 7 – but as a “chronoman” he couldn’t be expected to do anything but wait.

Di Luca gets 5, but at least the man set pulses racing on Friday.

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Our ride for today.
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Evgeny Petrov (Rus & Tinkoff Credit Systems) heads for 20th place.

We’ve got a long drive today, from the Valdiddentro to the start, north of Milano. The good things are that the sun is out and we’re going against the traffic heading north to the mountains and lakes – escaping from the grey industrial hinterlands of Milan and Bergamo.

It’s almost midnight now CET, Milano and the Giro is won and lost.

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Arrivo!

There’s no doubt that it was a bit of a strange one. Generally in time trials which conclude a stage race the best times will come from the guys racing for the GC.

There are exceptions, if it’s dry early and wet late for instance, or if it’s a one way race and a head wind rises. But as far as we could see, there was no appreciable difference in temperature. However, around one hour from the end, it went really clammy, putting oxygen at a premium – that’s our theory.

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Charlee is rewarded with a hug after his hard 3 weeks.
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Enrico Gasparotto was 3rd last today. Maybe get an aero-bike for next time, eh Gaspa?

Wiggins was impressive – catching three guys in just 28 kilometres; the fact that he did that made us realise that he was going well – maybe top ten?

However, he ended up fourth, behind team mate Pinotti, another High Road early starter.

Pinotti is Italian TT champ, so he knows the chrono, but it was a most unexpected result.

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Recognise the ‘bars and seat cluster from Bradley’s GB track bike?

Brad was riding a GB WCPP “Stealth” machine – I know it said ‘Giant’ but those decals stick to virtually anything.

Because we opted to follow a rider, we didn’t have time to do a mega TT bike skek.

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But we did see the new Bianchi, complete with slotted chainstays – nice!

Also nice were the Slipstream Felts – very Darth Vader.

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Giovanni Visconti on the triathlon-like Specialized.

The organisation was shocking, I’ve followed several riders in TT’s in the Tour with no drama and no problems about taking pics. The start was a mess, pure and simple.

I was amazed at the lack of professionalism by the Gerolsteiner and Euskaltel teams – still, it’s been a long hard three weeks, I guess.

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Sometimes following a rider on the course isn’t the best way to see what’s going on!

The guy from the organisation who accompanied Brad was a real ‘jobsworth’ – he just wouldn’t let us near to get decent pics. We got reasonable photos roadside later in the day though.

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Bruz didn’t ride to plan, but held onto his podium spot – just.

We had expected a ‘charge’ from Bruz, but it wasn’t to be, and he clung to the podium by his fingertips. Pello almost nicked the spot, beating Bruz in the TT by one second – totally against the form book.

I know it will sound churlish, but Pello’s performance today just reinforces our disappointment at his failure to attack yesterday – he obviously had legs left.

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Bert hammers into the finish.

We were happy to see Bruz third, but if he’d been ‘special’ he could surely have taken second; Ricco rode a weak race, way down in the sixties. The word is that he’s been sick, so no doubt he’s happy with second.

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Contador rode “a la Lance”.

Contador rode “a la Lance” – that’s to say, revving between 100 and 110 rpm the whole way – impressive. But so is the fact that Geraint Thomas got the same time as him, and achieved 12th in the TT : faster than Miller, Leipheimer and Menchov – fantastic!

Bert couldn’t manage a top ten and so ends up in that most unsatisfying category of Grand Tour winners – those who win overall, but don’t win a stage.

He didn’t attack, he didn’t gamble, there were no ‘exploits’ – he just didn’t loose time. Di Luca’s charge on Friday was the effort of the race, albeit it left the gas tank empty on Saturday.

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68th @ 2’32” today, and over 4 minutes lost to Bert in the TT’s: Riccardo Ricco needs to either improve his buffer in the mountains or limit his losses better in the TT.

Whilst the Giro would like to think that is’s at least the equal of the Tour, the last stage underlines that it is not.

Paris shows it’s best side for the Tour, with the route taking in some of the most famous streets and squares in the world and barrier space is at a premium for the entire finishing circuit.

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Yann Huguet races through near-empty streets.

The Giro TT route was on non descript roads and hardly ‘sold’ Milan.

Apart from the last 500 metres, it was easy to get a vantage point.

The French are about as insular as you get, but they’ve accepted that a huge proportion of the world speaks English and it’s only sensible to have an English translation for manuals and communiques – not in Italy; Italian or UCI French.

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Old war-horse Fabio Baldato, still doing a great job for his team.

The hotel was five minutes from the finish, which was a blessing, it was – as Billy Idol would say – ‘Hot in the City’ yesterday and we were glad not to have the stress of scraping around in the heat and crazy traffic.

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Mauro Facci nicks his name-board from the official’s car as a souvenir.

We caught up with our Pez Italia colleague Ale briefly, for a coffee, before he drove home with his wife to Genoa. It was nice to see him, he’s never raced, but is passionate about cycling.

Something to eat, back to the digs for a shower and tomorrow, as Dave says; “Oor creds are nae guid tae us !”

Hope you enjoyed the diary folks. Ciao, ciao !

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And just like the pros, we’re saying our goodbyes and heading home.