Menchov beats Leipheimer in stage 12 Giro time trial.

Speak, legs, speak.

Speak, legs, speak.

Let your legs to the talking. Especially when you speak Russian.

Denis Menchov (Rabobank) is not the most quotable guy in the peleton. Naturally reserved and taciturn, the Russian prefers to stay as invisible as possible until the decisive moment arrives. That moment was stage 12, the 60 kilometer time trial. Menchov’s legs had plenty to say as he blistered the course in one hour, 34 minutes and change. Not a snazzy quote or amusing anecdote like the journalists love but a statement that said loud and clear “I plan to win the Giro.” The Maglia Rosa is now on Menchov’s back.

Levi Leipheirmer (Astana) also rode a strong race against the clock, coming in 20 seconds behind the Russian. Perhaps the slight after-effects of yesterdays’ crash held him back but Levi looks poised to challenge for the overall. And the most famous domestique in cycling, Lance Armstrong, showed fans his top form is coming fast. Unfortunately UCI officials did not allow Lance to ride his special low-rider TT bike. (See previous post.) With Chris Horner gone, look for Lance to cover every attack on Levi in the mountains. He is going to will Levi to victory.

Goodbye Columbia-Highroad.  GC hopeful Michael Rodgers put in an uninspired ride to fall back three places. With Ivan Basso also having an off day, it looks like Menchov’s Rabobank and the Leipheimer & Armstrong Astana team will battle di Luca’s LPR Brakes squad for the Giro victory. Mark Cavendish will have an easy stage win tomorrow but Rodgers and Lovkvist’s GC hopes are over.

So Denis, how’s it feel to have the Maglia Rosa. “Good.” What do you think your chances are of winning the Giro? “Good.” Does this guy sound brash, cocky, entertaining? Well, don’t expect any exciting quotes from the quiet Russian. But in Riomaggiore, his legs said everything he wanted to say.

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