Dowsett claims time-trial as Wiggins closes gap on Nibali

Olympic champion overcomes puncture at Giro D’Italia

 Bradley Wiggins of Sky Procycling in action during   the Giro D’Italia. Photograph:  Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Bradley Wiggins of Sky Procycling in action during the Giro D’Italia. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Sat, May 11, 2013, 18:59

British time-trial champion Alex Dowsett claimed stage eight of the Giro D’Italia today as Bradley Wiggins closed the gap on his general classification rivals.

The Olympic champion was expected to claw some time back on the 54.8-kilometre time trial from Gabicce Mare to Saltara following yesterday’s fall but could only finish 10 seconds behind Movistar rider Dowsett in second.

Wiggins suffered an early puncture which saw him lose time but the Team Sky man was strong in the second half of his ride and moved up to fourth in the GC, one minute and 16 seconds behind leader Vincenzo Nibali.

Astana’s Nibali claimed the pink jersey as he finished the stage 21 seconds behind Dowsett in fourth after a sensational ride and Wiggins will have been disappointed to only gain 11 seconds on one of his major rivals.

Nibali’s Astana team-mate Tanel Kangert completed the top three on stage eight with Cadel Evans (BMC) making big strides as he finished seventh.

The Australian, who won the Tour de France in 2011, moved up to second in the GC and sits 29 seconds behind Nibali with Blanco’s Robert Gesink a further 46 seconds behind in third place, one second ahead of Wiggins.

Wiggins admitted he was disappointed not to have won the stage in his favourite discipline, but has not given up hope of claiming the Pink Jersey

“I think there was some initial disappointment because I wanted to win the stage,” he said.

“It’s been a challenging few days with the crash yesterday and then to come back up.

“It wasn’t an easy course. I’ve said all along that it wasn’t one of those ones where you could take three or four minutes out of people because it was so technical at the start.

“Then obviously to have a puncture and have to change bikes and disrupt the rhythm is never going to help.

“But then the second part of the course was really suited to me and I took back a lot of time on people there.

“It is what it is and it’s put us right back up there now. It’s going to be a hell of a race for the next two weeks.”

“There are two weeks to go. The last week’s going to be very difficult and the time gaps are relatively small still.

“A minute and 16 to Nibali still with all the problems yesterday isn’t that bad, it’s all to play for.

“It’s not easy to defend a Grand Tour lead so it’s not a bad position to be in.

“We’re still here and we’ve got three guys in the top 10 now. We’ve got a few cards to play.”

For Dowsett, it was a first stage win in a Grand Tour and the Essex-born rider could not hide his delight at beating his fellow Briton.

He said: “It will take a bit of time before I realise what I have done. I still can’t believe myself.

“It was quite a harder TT than I expected. Without a doubt, the hardest in my life.

“This was my goal, the day when I wanted to do my best.

“My personal ambitions are more than fulfilled with this victory and, from now on, my only duty will be working for my team-mates.”