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After near-misses galore in recent seasons, CSC finally took victory in a team time trial at a major tour in today's 35km Giro test from Piacenza to Cremona. Ivan Basso and co averaged close to 57kph to record a time one second ahead of T-Mobile, who would have won if their fifth counting rider, Matthias Kessler, hadn't slipped off the back of the German team's line in the final kilometre.
There was considerable consolation, though, for T-Mobile as 2004 Giro runner-up Serhiy Honchar took the race leader's maglia rosa when previous leader Stefan Schumacher's Gerolsteiner team came in more than a minute down in sixth place.
After hit and miss weather during the first four days in Belgium, the Giro's return home was greeted with a cloudless sky and a perfect 25 degrees - perfect time trialling conditions. The only slight fly in the ointment for the faster teams was that the late adjustment of the TTT's distance from 38 to 35km, potentially depriving them of some useful seconds.
CSC were the clear favourites to win the test, given that Basso was supported by a very strong line-up containing Michael Blaudzun, I¤igo Cuesta, Volodymir Gustov, Bobby Julich, Giovanni Lombardi, Carlos Sastre, Nicki Sorensen and Jens Voigt, who ended the day in second place, six seconds behind Honchar and five ahead of team leader Basso.
T-Mobile slipped Michael Rogers and sprinter Olaf Pollack into the gap between the two CSC riders, and their management had the added satisfaction of seeing Jan Ullrich finish among their counting five riders.
Fresh from a course reconnaissance with former team leader Lance Armstrong and with the great man urging them on in the team car behind, Discovery Channel finished third, 39 seconds down on CSC. This dropped defending champion Paolo Savoldelli to sixth, nine seconds down on Basso. Just behind Discovery were Danilo Di Luca's Liquigas team, with Franaise des Jeux an excellent fifth, just ahead of Schumacher and co.
Of the other major contenders, Damiano Cunego and Lampre were eighth at 1-04, and Gilberto Simoni and Saunier Duval a lowly 18th at 1-26.
Stage 5, Piacenza-Cremona team time trial
1 Team CSC (Den) 35km in 36.56 (56.87kph)
2 T-Mobile (Ger) 0.01
3 Discovery Channel (USA) 0.39
4 Liquigas (Ita) 0.42
5 Franaise des Jeux (Fra) 1.00
6 Gerolsteiner (Ger) 1.03
7 Quick Step (Bel)
8 Lampre (Ita) 1.04
9 Phonak (Swi)
10 Crdit Agricole (Fra) 1.07
1 Serhiy Honchar (Ukr) T-Mobile 15.30.23
2 Jens Voigt (Ger) CSC 0.06
3 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile
4 Olaf Pollack (Ger) T-Mobile 0.10
5 Ivan Basso (Ita) CSC 0.11
6 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel 0.20
7 Nicki Sorensen (Den) CSC 0.29
8 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 0.31
9 Bobby Julich (USA) CSC 0.33
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