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Menchov wins time-trial to take Giro lead

  • Story Highlights
  • Russian Denis Menchov claims the overall leader's pink jersey in Giro d'Italia
  • The Rabobank rider wins the 12th stage time-trial, his second stage success
  • Menchov heads previous leader Danilo Di Luca by 34 seconds in the standings
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(CNN) -- Two-time Tour of Spain winner Denis Menchov has taken over the race leader's pink jersey in the Giro d'Italia, after winning Thursday's 12th stage, a gruelling 60.6km individual time-trial from Sestri Levante to Riomaggiore.

Menchov proveed unstoppable on Thursday, taking the Giro pink jersey after winning the time-trial.

Menchov proveed unstoppable on Thursday, taking the Giro pink jersey after winning the time-trial.

Russian Menchov completed the course in a time of one hour, 34 minutes and 29 seconds, 20 seconds quicker than American Levi Leipheimer, as Italian Danilo Di Luca finally relinquished the pink jersey he had worn since stage five.

Di Luca finished the stage in sixth position, nearly two minutes down on Menchov, and is now 34 seconds behind the Rabobank rider in the general classification, with Leipheimer a further six seconds back in third position overall.

There is then a break to Italian Franco Pellizotti, who lies two minutes back overall, with Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre completing the top five.

Thursday's pace was set by 2000 Giro winner Stefano Garzelli, who eventually finishing third in 1:35:32, while Leipheimer's Astana team-mate Lance Armstrong took 13th place, to move him up to 12th in the overall standings.

Despite starting the day with an advantage of one minute and 20 seconds over Menchov, Di Luca told reporters that he was happy with his day's work.

"Menchov rode very well but I'm happy. I hope to take back the pink jersey as soon as possible. The Giro is open and anything can still happen," said Di Luca.

Menchov clocked an average speed of 38.4km/h on the steep, undulating course, securing his second stage win of the race after winning the fifth stage at the summit of the Alpe di Siusi.

The 31-year-old won the Tour of Spain in 2005 and 2007 and finished fifth in last year's Tour of Italy.

Friday's flat 13th stage in picturesque Tuscany takes the riders on a 176km course from Lido di Camaiore to Florence and is expected to be contested by the sprinters.

Meanwhile, Spain's Julian Sanchez Pimienta won the fourth stage of the Tour of Catalunya on Thursday as compatriot Alejandro Valverde retained his overall race lead.

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