1. Sergei Gontchar (Ukr) Aki 47.18 2. Evgeni Berzin (Rus) Batik + 1.08 3. Bruno Boscardin (Sch) Festina + 1.31 4. Pavel Padrnos (Cze) Roslotto + 1.54 5. Josi Luis Rubiera (Spa) Kelme + 2.06 6. Denis Zanette (Ita) Aki + 2.27 7. Pavel Tonkov (Rus) Mapei + 2.30 8. Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Roslotto + 2.33 9. Giuseppe Guerini (Ita) Polti + 2.33 10. Germano Pierdomernico (Ita) Cantina + 2.36 11. Ivan Gotti (Ita) Saeco + 2.44 12. Michelangelo Cauz (Ita) Aki + 2.54 13. Alexei Sivakov (Rus) Roslotto + 2.55 14. Marco Fincato (Ita) Roslotto + 3.01 15. Giuseppe Di Grande (Ita) Mapei + 3.07 16. Jaime Hernandez (Spa) Festina + 3.13 17. Roberto Petito (Ita) Saeco + 3.17 18. Michele Poser (Ita) Ros Mary + 3.17 19. Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Mercatone Uno + 3.22 20. Marco Velo (Ita) Brescialat + 3.23

1. Ivan Gotti (Ita) Saeco 2. Pavel Tonkov (Rus) + 0.37 3. Luc Leblanc (Fra) Polti + 4.06 4. Alexander Chefer (Kaz) Asics + 5.19 5. Nicola Miceli (Ita) Aki + 5.48 6. Giuseppe Guerini (Ita) Polti + 6.06 7. Sergei Gontchar (Ukr) Aki + 7.42 8. Giuseppe Di Grande (Ita) Mapei + 8.19 9. Wladimir Belli (Ita) Brescialat + 10.30 10. Axel Merckx (Bel) Polti + 11.14 11. Marcos Serrano (Spa) Kelme + 13.05 12. Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Roslotto + 13.34 13. Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Mercatone Uno + 13.49 14. Felix Garcia Casas (Spa) Festina + 14.06 15. Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Refin + 15.50 16. Evgeni Berzin (Rus) Batik + 17.38 17. Jose Luis Rubiera (Spa) Kelme + 18.29 18. Andrea Noe (Ita) Asics + 18.46 19. Paolo Bettini (Ita) MG + 22.41 20. Alberto Volpi (Ita) Batik + 24.07 Intergiro (maglia Azzurra): Dimitri Konyshev Points (maglia Ciclamino): Mario Cipollini GPM-Mountains (maglia Verde): Chepe Gonzalez Pico

Michel Riviere, president of the race jury, ruled it out as Tonkov came to the start line because of a 'spoiler' fairing on its frame.

Tonkov had used the bike twice without problems in winning the Tour of Romandie a week before the Giro began..

He said: ``Two minutes before the start I was told I could not ride it. I had to switch to a new machine which I had tried out earlier.

``In that training ride I got off after 800 metres because I did not feel right on it. So I had a bad time trial riding that machine and my legs were hurting at the finish.''

The International Cycling Union (UCI) technical ruling forbids anything that reduces resistance and offers an artificial acceleration such as a fuselage or a fairing.

Tonkov still carved into Gotti's overnight advantage of 51 seconds but the Italian limited his losses with a battling finish.

Gotti saved seven seconds in the final two kilometres of the time trial from Baselga di Pine' and now holds Tonkov at 37 seconds as the Giro enters the Dolomites.

Ukrainian Sergei Gontchar sprang a surprise with a 50 kph ride to beat pre-race favourite Yevgeny Berzin of Russia by one minute eight seconds.

Gontchar's time, 47 minutes 18 seconds, was 2:44 faster than Gotti but it lifted him only to seventh overall, still 7:42 away from the leader's pink jersey.

Gotti said: ``I did not risk anything and I knew the downhill section so it was not difficult for me. I am just happy to keep the jersey.''

Tonkov's back wheel locked momentarily as he took the descent but Frenchman Luc Leblanc is still third overall after hitting a wall and falling. It cost him more than a minute overall on Tonkov.

Alexandre Shefer escaped injury after catapulting over the handlebars on the descent. The Kazakhstan racer ran out of road and finished in a heap before the counter of a mobile snackbar.

He still held on to his fourth place overall but lost four minutes, reducing his chances of challenging Leblanc.

Ivan Gotti lost 14 seconds to main rival Pavel Tonkov of Russia in the 18th stage time-trial of the Tour of Italy Wednesday but retained his overall lead.

The 28-year-old Gotti, fifth in the race last year, leads defending champion Tonkov by 37 seconds going into the three mountain stages -- Frenchman Luc Leblanc, third overnight, fell and is now over four minutes adrift.

"I would have been killed if I hadn't been wearing a helmet. It's bad enough as it is as I was only 10 seconds down at the time to Tonkov," Leblanc said.

The 29-year-old Frenchman, the 1994 world champion, sustained no bad injuries but was badly bruised and cut.

Sergei Gontchar, 26, of Ukraine won the stage giving the non-Italian racers only their sixth win of the Tour.

Italian cyclist Ivan Gotti lost 14 seconds to main rival Pavel Tonkov of Russia in the 18th stage time-trial of the Tour of Italy here on Wednesday but retained his overall lead. The 28-year-old Gotti, fifth in the race last year, leads defending champion Tonkov by 37 seconds going into the three mountain stages -- Frenchman Luc Leblanc, third overnight, fell and is now over four minutes adrift. "I would have been killed if I hadn't been wearing a helmet. It's bad enough as it is as I was only 10 seconds down at the time to Tonkov," Leblanc said. The 29-year-old Frenchman, the 1994 world champion, sustained no bad injuries but was badly bruised and cut. Sergei Gontchar, 26, of Ukraine won the stage giving the non-Italian racers only their sixth win of the Tour.

Ukranian cyclist, Serguei Gontchar, from Team Aki, was the unexpected winner of the 18th stage of the Giro d'Italia, a 40 km time trial which confirmed Ivan Gotti's good form. Gontchar spent in the 40 km between Balsega de Pino & Cavalese, 47 minutes & 18 seconds, which translates to an average speed of 50.740 kms-hr, much faster than all other participants, specially Russian Eugeni Berzin, great favorite for the win who had to be happy with 2nd place at 1 minute and 8 seconds. Third was Frenchman Bruno Boscardin at 1:31, who for a long time had the best time, at 1:54 came in Chzeck Padrnos, at 2:06 Spaniard Rubiera, Tonkov came in 7th at 2:30 and leader Ivan Gotti took 2:42.

If Gontchar's time was a surprise, the only one too break the 48 minute barrier, also Gotti's ride was one, since he clearly won the challenge in the overall with Russian Pavel Tonkov when he only lost 14 seconds of the 51 of advantage he had before the stage. Now the overall is lead by Gotti, by 37 seconds over Tonkov & 4:06 minutes over Luc Leblanc, who even though he suffered a fall, he rode a good time trial. Leblanc lost over half a minute because of a fall. Meanwhile Pavel Tonkov was not allowed to start with his sophisticated bicycle, when the judges felt that the handlebars were not legal and was close to crashing when he took a lot of risks, when he was being told that Gotti was in his heels at half race.

It is a mark of respect which leaves its mark on the riders, because the highest mountain is dedicated to his memory as the Cima Coppi.

Thursday's Cima (summit) -- the Passo Pordoi, standing at 2,239 metres amid the Dolomites -- is where Il Campionissimo was victorious five times between 1947 and 1954.

The tiny man with the spidery legs and huge courage also won five Giros, 22 stages and four time-trials and was the best in the mountains three times.

He also won two Tours de France, a world title and eight classics and on the track he took two world pursuit golds and set a world hour record which stood for 16 years.

Coppi died in 1960, aged 40, of malaria after an Africa safari. Italy mourned for weeks.

Thursday's Cima is just one of six mountains on the 220 kms to Falzes which, in profile, resemble the jagged jaw of a shark.

It is a fitting shrine on roads on which the Giro will be decided and Thursday is the first of three days in the Dolomites before Sunday's Milan finale.

Last year on the Aprica mountain, which the Giro visits on Saturday, Giro leader Ivan Gotti beat Russian Pavel Tonkov by more than a minute.

Tonkov went on to win the Giro but Gotti, fifth last year, insists that he now has a greater belief in his own talents.

``I am lighter than Tonkov and that should help on those long climbs. If he is in trouble then I will attack,'' Gotti said.

``The Mortirolo mountain brought a change in the lead last year and that is a climb which suits me.''

That mountain, which they tackle on Saturday, also suited Tonkov. It was there that he regained the colours from Spain's Abraham Olano.

On Wednesday Gotti's lead slimmed from 51 to 37 seconds as Tonkov finished faster in a 40-km time-trial at Cavalese, the threshold to the showdown in the Dolomites.

``Now the Giro starts,'' Tonkov said. ``Thirty-seven seconds is not much and I intend to make life difficult for Gotti. If he has a problem I will make the most of it.''

Italy is hungry for a Giro triumph. Franco Chioccioli was the last Italian winner in 1991, so Gotti bears a heavy burden. ``Now the Giro starts,'' Tonkov said. ``Thirty-seven seconds is not much and I intend to make life difficult for Gotti. If he has a problem I will make the most of it.''

So we have Pavel Tonkov & Ivan Gotti, a tiemtrial, where almost everyone favors the Russian. Neither can be considered a specialist, but Tonkov always finishes better and has two wins: the mountain time trial at Bergamasca '95 and the time trial (with climbs) of San Marino at this Giro d'Italia, which he finished 55" over Gotti over 18 km.

The only precedent of advantage by the Bergamascan in the Pink Jersey was at the 1995 Tour de France. At the Seraing time trial (54 km) Gotti finished 11th at 4'04" from Indurain, while Tonkov finished 22nd at 5'40". But the Russian wasn't in the best of forms and ended up retiring on stage 13 and Gotti went on to do his best time trial (4th at Lac De Vassiviere, over 46,5 km at 1'41" from Miguel Indurain).

Last year at the Giro, Tonkov deffended the maglia rosa at the Marostica time trial (62 km) with a fourth place (at 1'27" from Berzin), while Gotti finished 15th at 4'22. And this year all encounters have favored the Russian. At romandie, for example, TOnkov finished 8th at 55" from Boardman over 21.7 km and Gotti 56th at 2'20" from the Englishman.

1. GONTCHAR SERGEI (Ucr - Aki-Safi) km 40 in 47'18", media 50.740; 2. BERZIN EUGENI (Rus - Batik-Del Monte) a 1'08"; 3. BOSCARDIN BRUNO (Svi - Festina-Lotus) a 1'31"; 4. Padrnos a 1'54"; 5. Rubiera a 2'06"; 6. Zanette a 2'27"; 7. Tonkov a 2'30"; 8. Savoldelli a 2'33"; 9. Guerini; 10. Pierdomenico a 2'36"; 11. Gotti a 2'44"; 12. Cauz a 2'54"; 13. Sivakov a 2'55"; 14. Fincato a 3'01"; 15. Di Grande a 3'07"; 16. Hernandez a 3'13"; 17. Petito a 3'17"; 18. Poser; 19. Garzelli a 3'22"; 20. Velo a 3'23"; 21. Peschel a 3'40"; 22. Forconi; 23. Podenzana a 3'43"; 24. Bortolami a 3'44"; 25. Leblanc a 3'48"; 26. Hvastija a 3'50"; 27. Dalla Costa a 3'51"; 28. Bottaro a 3'55"; 29. Missaglia a 4'01"; 30. Lecchi a 4'05"; 31. Werner; 32. Gonzalez Gutierrez a 4'06"; 33. Frigo a 4'09"; 34. De Paoli a 4'11"; 35. Brasi a 4'14"; 36. Cabello a 4'16"; 37. Merckx; 38. Schmidt a 4'17"; 39. Serrano a 4'18"; 40. Konyshev a 4'19"; 41. Shefer a 4'23"; 42. Wust a 4'24"; 43. Miceli a 4'25"; 44. Volpi a 4'27"; 45. Gomez Gonzalo; 46. Pianegonda a 4'33"; 47. Ouslamine a 4'37"; 48. Mondini a 4'40"; 49. Tani a 4'42"; 50. Secchiari a 4'46"; 51. Djavanian a 4'50"; 52. Garcia Casas a 4'52"; 53. Leoni a 4'54"; 54. Jeker; 55. Cenghialta a 4'55"; 56. Bettini a 4'57"; 57. Belli; 58. Conti a 4'59"; 59. Noe a 5'; 60. Lietti; 61. Pozzi A. a 5'02"; 62. Frattini C. a 5'06"; 63. Tebaldi a 5'09"; 64. Loda a 5'12"; 65. Bugno a 5'13"; 66. Sgambelluri; 67. Bontempi a 5'16"; 68. Baldato; 69. Barbero a 5'18"; 70. Donati a 5'23"; 71. Casagrande Filippo; 72. Spruch a 5'24"; 73. Vidal a 5'28"; 74. Baronti; 75. Della Vedova a 5'29"; 76. Faresin a 5'32"; 77. Apollonio a 5'36"; 78. Crepaldi a 5'38"; 79. Davidenko a 5'39"; 80. Galletti; 81. Vergnani a 5'43"; 82. Edo Alsina a 5'46"; 83. Lanfranchi a 5'47"; 84. Siboni a 5'48"; 85. Dotti a 5'49"; 86. Chiesa a 5'50"; 87. Fornaciari; 88. Cipollini a 5'52"; 89. Sacchi a 5'53"; 90. Calzavara a 5'58"; 91. Traversoni a 6'03"; 92. Laddomada; 93. Magnusson a 6'06"; 94. Coppolillo a 6'08"; 95. Caruso; 96. Bettin a 6'09"; 97. Lebreton; 98. Cassani; 99. Manzoni a 6'13"; 100. Giraldi a 6'15"; 101. Finesso a 6'16"; 102. Mazzanti a 6'20"; 103. Piccoli; 104. Pistore; 105. Molinari a 6'21"; 106. Frattini F. a 6'25"; 107. Roscioli; 108. Gentili; 109. Paluan a 6'26"; 110. Bramati a 6'27"; 111. Rossato; 112. Scopsi a 6'29"; 113. Lozano a 6'38"; 114. Spezialetti a 6'42"; 115. Ouchakov a 6'43"; 116. Pumar a 6'53"; 117. Gualdi a 6'54"; 118. Vatteroni a 6'56"; 119. Piepoli a 6'57"; 120. Brognara a 7'; 121. Di Renzo a 7'06"; 122. Giacomelli a 7'08"; 123. Gonzalez Pico a 7'10"; 124. Calcaterra a 7'11"; 125. Bonetti a 7'22"; 126. Fontanelli a 7'23"; 127. Barbagli a 7'27"; 128. Puttini; 129. Moos a 7'42"; 130. Gallorini a 7'46"; 131. Santaromita a 7'56"; 132. Gasperoni a 8'07"; 133. Alberati a 8'13"; 134. Larsen a 8'21"; 135. Pellicioli a 8'26"; 136. Patuelli a 9'16"; 137. Aggiano a 10'47". Started the Giro: 180. Started the stage: 137. Didn't start: 1 ( n. 127 Steinhauser). Finished: 137. General Classification: 1. GOTTI IVAN (Ita - Saeco) in 79.17'25", media 39.310; 2. TONKOV PAVEL (Rus - Mapei-GB) a 37"; 3. LEBLANC LUC (Fra - Team Polti) a 4'06"; 4. Shefer a 5'19"; 5. Miceli a 5'48"; 6. Guerini a 6'06"; 7. Gontchar a 7'42"; 8. Di Grande a 8'19"; 9. Belli a 10'30"; 10. Merckx a 11'14"; 11. Serrano a 13'05"; 12. Savoldelli a 13'34"; 13. Garzelli a 13'49"; 14. Garcia Casas a 14'06"; 15. Piepoli a 15'50"; 16. Berzin a 17'38"; 17. Rubiera a 18'29"; 18. Noe a 18'46"; 19. Bettini a 22'41"; 20. Volpi a 24'07"; 21. Frigo a 25'45"; 22. Secchiari a 30'19"; 23. Forconi a 31'34"; 24. Gentili a 33'20"; 25. Gomez Gonzalo a 34'12"; 26. Conti a 34'20"; 27. Podenzana a 38'28"; 28. Gonzalez Pico a 39'26"; 29. Faresin a 41'16"; 30. Petito a 41'25"; 31. Mazzanti a 48'05"; 32. De Paoli a 48'15"; 33. Sgambelluri a 48'35"; 34. Velo a 49'12"; 35. Siboni a 49'24"; 36. Paluan a 50'37"; 37. Piccoli a 51'13"; 38. Jeker a 52'42"; 39. Puttini a 53'31"; 40. Pellicioli a 55'39"; 41. Coppolillo a 58'51"; 42. Donati a 59'34"; 43. Pierdomenico a 59'47"; 44. Cenghialta a 1.01'48"; 45. Gasperoni a 1.02'06"; 46. Bortolami a 1.02'29"; 47. Loda a 1.06'20"; 48. Calzavara a 1.06'26"; 49. Sivakov a 1.10'17"; 50. Patuelli a 1.10'22"; 51. Barbero a 1.02'05"; 52. Konyshev a 1.14'; 53. Padrnos a 1.17'33"; 54. Vergnani a 1.18'59"; 55. Pistore a 1.19'13"; 56. Lanfranchi a 1.19'19"; 57. Spezialetti a 1.22'23"; 58. Ouslamine a 1.22'46"; 59. Lozano a 1.23'52"; 60. Dotti a 1.25'23"; 61. Lecchi a 1.27'32"; 62. Gonzalez Gutierrez a 1.28'37"; 63. Fincato a 1.28'58"; 64. Hernandez a 1.29'06"; 65. Molinari a 1.30'07"; 66. Laddomada a 1.30'25"; 67. Frattini F. a 1.34'02"; 68. Missaglia a 1.36'49"; 69. Finesso a 1.37'13"; 70. Davidenko a 1.37'34"; 71. Vatteroni a 1.38'35"; 72. Roscioli a 1.38'58"; 73. Della Vedova a 1.40'35"; 74. Brognara a 1.42'19"; 75. Hvastija a 1.42'44"; 76. Poser a 1.45'45"; 77. Gualdi a 1.47'03"; 78. Boscardin a 1.48'57"; 79. Tebaldi a 1.49'26"; 80. Mondini a 1.51'12"; 81. Tani a 1.51'39"; 82. Lebreton a 1.51'50"; 83. Baldato a 1.52'43"; 84. Casagrande Filippo a 1.53'06"; 85. Manzoni a 1.53'45"; 86. Chiesa a 1.54'55"; 87. Pozzi A. a 1.55'07"; 88. Frattini C. a 1.55'19"; 89. Galletti a 1.55'20"; 90. Crepaldi a 1.56'36"; 91. Lietti a 1.57'01"; 92. Pumar a 1.58'24"; 93. Caruso a 1.59'18"; 94. Zanette a 2.00'10"; 95. Bonetti a 2.00'19"; 96. Baronti a 2.01'11"; 97. Cabello a 2.01'25"; 98. Vidal a 2.02'55"; 99. Apollonio a 2.03'18"; 100. Giraldi a 2.04'06"; 101. Alberati a 2.04'11"; 102. Scopsi a 2.04'33"; 103. Bugno a 2.07'32"; 104. Brasi a 2.07'44"; 105. Ouchakov a 2.08'19"; 106. Fontanelli a 2.09'09"; 107. Bramati a 2.10'18"; 108. Cipollini a 2.11'01"; 109. Barbagli a 2.13'44"; 110. Sacchi a 2.14'25"; 111. Dalla Costa a 2.15'56"; 112. Gallorini a 2.16'09"; 113. Traversoni a 2.16'35"; 114. Werner a 2.16'41"; 115. Bettin a 2.17'13"; 116. Djavanian a 2.17'26"; 117. Magnusson a 2.20'40"; 118. Moos a 2.22'09"; 119. Edo Alsina a 2.22'10"; 120. Bo Larsen a 2.22'30"; 121. Spruch a 2.23'09"; 122. Wust a 2.23'30"; 123. Leoni a 2.24'04"; 124. Bottaro a 2.24'40"; 125. Fornaciari a 2.27'02"; 126. Peschel a 2.27'06"; 127. Pianegonda a 2.28'46"; 128. Bontempi a 2.31'29"; 129. Cassani a 2.32'50"; 130. Schmidt a 2.38'50"; 131. Santaromita a 2.40'41"; 132. Calcaterra a 2.41'08"; 133. Aggiano a 2.45'26"; 134. Giacomelli a 2.55'17"; 135. Cauz a 2.58'50"; 136. Di Renzo a 3.07'56"; 137. Rossato a 3.08'30".