Alberto Contador and Tinkoff-Saxo team talk about the race leader's time loss during the final mountains of the 2015 Giro d'Italia

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) appeared less Grand Tour machine and more human for 30 kilometres of the 2015 Giro d’Italia on Saturday, which he should still win tomorrow in Milan. He said after the stage that he was suffering from an ‘off day’.

The Spaniard in the race leader’s pink jersey struggled on the race’s highest climb, the Colle delle Finestre, after his rivals attacked and he lost around one minute. However, he managed himself on the gravel roads, rode the descent with the calm of a Grand Tour champion and finished the stage 2-25 minutes behind winner Fabio Aru (Astana).

Contador still maintains a 2-02 lead over Aru with only the flat stage to Milan remaining.

“He passed a really bad moment with three kilometres to go, he was isolated so it was hard for him,” sports director, Steven De Jongh said outside the Tinkoff-Saxo bus.

>>> Alberto Contador under pressure in Giro d’Italia’s penultimate stage as Aru wins again

“Hunger flat? I don’t know, when we asked if you want a bidon, or a gel, he said, ‘No, I’m OK.’ He still had gels and drinks with him, and he was cooling down a bit.”

Astana’s Aru and Mikel Landa, sitting second and third overall, rode away and threatened Contador’s run to a seventh Grand Tour win. After the summit of Finestre, at 2178 metres, Contador regained control and managed his ride to the Sestriere ski station.

Alberto Contador on stage 20 of the 2015 Giro d'Italia

Alberto Contador on stage 20 of the 2015 Giro d’Italia

“Was I worried he’d lose it? I always said, Milan is a long way off,” De Jongh continued. “You can always lose in any moment even with a sh*tty crash on the Finestre or something.”

The 18.5-kilomtre climb ends with eight kilometres of gravel roads. The Giro first used it in the 2005 edition and again in 2011.

“It was hard day for me, the Colle delle Finestre showed once again why it is so popular in cycling,” Contador explained.

“Grand Tours are won when you can save yourself during an off day.”

Contador is the most successful Grand Tour rider of this generation. He last won the Giro in 2011, but that title and the 2010 Tour de France title were taken away for a doping suspension. He still has his 2008 Giro trophy, however.

Alberto Contador on stage 15 of the 2015 Giro d'Italia

Alberto Contador on stage 15 of the 2015 Giro d’Italia

Besides the Giro, he counts two Tour de France and three Vuelta a España wins.

He took over the Giro lead in Abetone and never made a mistake along the way. Only a crash and a dislocated shoulder in the sixth stage sprint finish threatened his lead. Other rivals crashed and abandoned like Sky’s Richie Porte, and Aru and Landa were often several steps off Contador’s pace.

“This pink jersey is important for me,” Contador explained. “Some may say it was easy for me, but even if they say you are the favourite, you have to work hard to get to the finish and prove it.”

Contador aims to become only the eighth cyclist in history to win the Giro/Tour double this year. After tomorrow, he will have made the first step towards that goal.

“It’s a goal that I want to try to achieve,” he added. “For sure, my mind is already on the Tour.”

  • Man in motion

    That’s a good analysis. Thank you

  • blemcooper

    Maybe the B+/A- team (minus Rafal Majka and Jesus Hernandez for mountains support).

    It’s almost as if they were testing the worst-case scenario for the TdF where they will be going for a double-double, not just the Giro-Tour double for Contador, but Points/Green with Sagan.

    If things go as expected, Etixx-QuickStep and Giant-Alpecin will control things on flat stages (with Tinkoff-Saxo helping out a tiny bit) so Sagan can accumulate points with lots of podiums.

    Sky and Astana will control things on GC-relevant stages.

    Tinkoff-Saxo is maybe planning on not having any responsibility to control things until the final week. But if they had to, they could do more…if only they hadn’t burned too many matches proving that they could in May.

    Presumably for the Tour, they’ll drop Juul Jensen, Basso, Boaro and Rovny while picking up Sagan, Bennati, Hernandez and Majka. If they lose Kreuziger due to his biopassport case or whatever, Kiserlovski (who contributed greatly to help Horner to his Vuelta win with Trek) could be a strong helper.

  • Dtello

    On Eurosport, Greg Lemond pointed out that if Aru and Landa had gotten together right after Alberto was dropped, Astana had a chance to actually win the Giro, rather than fight for the stage win. Astana (along with Movistar) IMHO generally employ the very poor tactics in Grand Tours. Tinkoff-Saxo without Riis may be about to join them – with Berto’s unnecessary attack on stage 18 and their questionable attempts to rule the race on the flats on stage 20.
    Looking forward to le Tour.

  • Man in motion

    Some questions that linger in my mind. Regarding Tinkoff-Saxo: are those clones of Rodgers, Baso and Kreuziger? They certanly didn’t look like the real thing and Contador was always alone in the final climbs. Were they following a good strategy wasting energy in the flats to control breakaways with non-GC contenders that left them deflated for the climbs? It seemed like T-S’s A Team. If that’s the best they can do, what can AC expect for the Tour? Regarding Astana: Did Mikel Landa get a fair treatment? He was in second yesterday, after waiting on several ocassions for Aru, and then they allow Aru to attack instead of him and leapfrog him to second? And today, he’s 40 seconds ahead with 10 k to go and, within 2-3 k he looses the advantage in a not-so-steep climb? I smell Astana fish here, anyone agrees?