Cadel Evans' challenge in the Giro d'Italia is gathering momentum after he climbed to second place overall following the eighth stage individual time trial.

Having gone into the three-week grand tour aiming to improve his sketchy form, Australia's 2011 Tour de France champion Evans now finds himself right in the thick of things as the battle between the general classification riders hots up.

Evans was seventh fastest on the gruelling 54.8km time trial, which included steep climbs and descents, and it was enough to improve his overall standing by four places and leave him behind only new tour leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).

The top six are now all genuine title contenders, with Nibali 29 seconds up on Evans (BMC) who is followed by Dutchman Robert Desink (Blanco), reigning Tour De France champion Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Italy's Michele Scarponi (Lampre) and Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp).

Wiggins was second in the time trial, 10 seconds behind stage winner and former Sky teammate Alex Dowsett, but he did not make up as much ground as expected and sits 1min 36sec behind Evans in the standings.

"I think I'm shaping fairly well on classification at this point but we'll see from here on in. I think the Giro changes from here on in," Evans told reporters.

"I think a time trial always shows everyone's cards.

"It's a good position to be in at this point but the real Giro is just starting.

"Compared to the other guys I've been riding reasonably well during the week, which was a good sign.

"For one reason or another I hadn't had a good time trial this year but it's started to come together now.

"It gives us a bit of a yardstick to look towards the rest of the Giro."

Wiggins was shaken by a fall on Friday and had his problems again in the time trial.

"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," said Wiggins.

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

"It's going to be a hell of a race for the next two weeks."

 

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