Alberto Contador beat his rivals and the rainy conditions to win the Tour of the Basque Country stage six time trial and take the overall title

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) won the final stage time trial at the Tour of the Basque Country in dominating fashion, and in so doing took the overall win.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) set a fast time of 29:18:40 in the wet conditions, but an ill-judged bike change earlier in the stage cost the Colombian several seconds and all of his momentum.

However, his overall deficit to first and second places was such that it may not have affected his result all that much.

Contador’s win barely looked in doubt as he sailed through the intermediate time checks. Breaking into an almost kilometre long sprint, the Tinkoff rider rode hard all the way to the finish line.

Sebastian Henao, Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana on the podium following stage six of the 2016 Tour of The Basque Country. Photo: Graham Watson

Sebastian Henao, Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana on the podium following stage six of the 2016 Tour of the Basque Country. Photo: Graham Watson

Dario Cataldo (Astana) set the early benchmark of 31:03:36, which stood until Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) went seven seconds faster with 30:56. These times were soon blown away when Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) came through 41 seconds down. Such a time looked like it could take the stage win for the young British rider, until Quintana came in 48 seconds faster.

Most riders opted to ride standard road bikes, with some using clip-on tri bars, due to the profile of the stage. The road went upwards almost from the start line and continued to do so until after the 6km mark. The incline included ramps of 20%.

The second half of the stage was mostly downhill back to Eibar. As such there was speculation that teams would swap bikes at the top and use TT machines to race into the finish. However, the wet conditions held back the expected pace and saw riders stick with their easier to handle road bikes.

Such concerns didn’t stop Quintana, who did change to his time trial bike. The bike change was far from smooth and the rider lost several seconds at a point in the course where he had been dancing up the climb.

Nario Quintana before his bike change. Photo: Graham Watson

Nario Quintana before his bike change. Photo: Graham Watson

Contador’s stage win and overall title seemed to be enough for him to decide to postpone his retirement, which he had previously said would come at the end of this season.

Whatever he decides, performances such as today’s point to him arriving at the Tour de France in July at the top of his game, an exciting prospect for fans of the world’s biggest race.

Sergio Henao could not do enough to hold onto the leader's jersey at the 2016 Tour of the Basque Country. Photo: Graham Watson

Sergio Henao could not do enough to hold onto the leader’s jersey at the 2016 Tour of the Basque Country. Photo: Graham Watson

Tour of the Basque Country 2016 result

Stage six: Eibar to Eibar, 16.5km, ITT

1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff in 29-13
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 5 secs
3. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky at 18s
4. Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-GreednEdge at 53 secs
5. Samuel Sanchez (Esp) BMC Racing at 1-04
6. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 1-09
7. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida at 1-16
8. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha st
9. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana at 1-21
10. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Caja Rural – Seguros RGA at 1-26

Alberto Contador on his way to overall victory in the 2016 Tour of the Basque Country. Photo: Graham Watson

Alberto Contador on his way to overall victory in the 2016 Tour of the Basque Country. Photo: Graham Watson

Final general classification after stage six

1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff in 22-44-43
2. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky at 12s
3. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 37 secs
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 1-13
5. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 1-22
6. Samuel Sanchez (Esp) BMC Racing at 1-29
7. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida at 2:19
8. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha at 2:47
9. Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale at 2:52
10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 3:14

  • a reluctant congrats – but can’t help be gutted for Henao!

  • elan

    Well done to Alberto.The best rider of our current generation.And a gentleman.

  • JoshLyons

    Excellent win by Alberto who was surely the strongest rider in the race. Congrats!

  • blemcooper

    IIRC, the time checks I saw indicated that Contador was like 20+ seconds faster than Quintana at something around 20 minutes in, and they ended up with Contador 5 seconds faster, so the latter’s bike change might have helped a bit. Or maybe because Contador had the time checks going forward, he took it a bit easier/safer on the corners for safety, confident he had not only the gap on the stage, but the gap overall to play with.