Alberto Contador left outnumbered as Astana ratchet up the pace, but the Spaniard still manages to extend his overall lead

Mikel Landa won stage fifteen of the Giro d’Italia after another dominant display from his Astana team.

Their efforts were not, however, enough to put any time into Alberto Contador’s (Tinkoff-Saxo) overall lead, and the race favourite in fact managed to extend his general classification lead over Fabio Aru (Astana).

Having set the pace for all of the final climb of the day, Astana eventually thinned the group out to just four riders: their riders Landa and Aru, Contador, and surprise package Yuri Trofimov (Katusha).

With 3km to go Landa attacked, but if anything the move seemed to weaken Astana’s position as Contador was able to follow immediately while Aru lost their wheels. Aru paced back up to the duo, however, and even attempted his own short-lived attack with 2km to go.

Alberto Contador, in pink, spent much of the stage surrounded by the blue jerseys of Astana (Watson)

Alberto Contador, in pink, spent much of the stage surrounded by the blue jerseys of Astana (Watson)

When all back together the trio slowed down and focussed on watching each other rather than setting a pace, allowing Trofimov to catch back up and ride straight past them. For a few moments it looked as though the Russian was going to be allowed to win, but Landa responded with another attack just before the 1km-to-go banner, catching and passing Trofimov some 500 metres later, and holding on for the win.

Contador out-sprinted Aru for third, capping off a day in which, despite being isolated earlier on, he never looked in trouble. Michael Rodgers was the only domestique to still be with him at the top of the penultimate Passo Daone climb, and he then was distanced on the descent after being caught up in a crash.

Unsurprisingly it was Astana who set the pace on the Daone, and dropped some big names including Richie Porte (Team Sky) and Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quick Step).

Another disappointing day for Porte may again put into question his continued participation in this Giro, but it wasn’t a completely disappointing day for Sky as a team. Leopold Konig was one of the longest survivors in the pink jersey group, and finished seventh on the stage to move up to fifth overall.

Sky's Richie Porte finished the stage more than 27 minutes behind Landa (Watson)

Sky’s Richie Porte finished the stage more than 27 minutes behind Landa (Watson)

Despite better weather it was yet another punishing day in the Giro, with the difficulty of the climbing exacerbated by another very fast start to the stage as a suitable break took a long time to be negotiated. Eventually a group of ten was formed, including blue jersey wearer Benat Intxausti (Movistar), who extended his lead in the mountains classification by collecting points on the first two summits.

That group whittled down to the quintet of Kanstantsin Siutsou (Sky), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Kanstantsin Siutsou (Sky), Hubert Dupont (Ag2r) and Brent Bookwalter (BMC) after the larger group failed to work coherently, but they were never allowed a substantial lead by the Astana-led peloton. All were caught before the lower slopes of the final climb.

Tomorrow the riders will enjoy a well-deserved rest day, before battle commences again in the mountains on Tuesday.

Giro d’Italia 2015, stage 15: Marostica to Madonna Di Campiglio, 165km

  1. Mikel Landa (Spa) Astana in 4-22-35
  2. Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha at 2 secs
  3. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo at 5 secs
  4. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 6 secs
  5. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Lotto-NLJumbo at 38 secs
  6. Andrey Amador (Crc) Movistar at 42 secs
  7. Leopold Konig (Cze) Sky at 1-00
  8. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana at 1-10
  9. Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ at 1-49
  10. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing at 2-13

Overall classification after stage 15

  1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
  2. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 2-35
  3. Andrey Amador (Crc) Movistar at 4-19
  4. Mikel Landa (Spa) Astana at 4-46
  5. Leopold Konig (Cze) Sky at 6-36
  6. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana at 4-50
  7. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing at 7-10
  8. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal 8-10
  9. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar at 9-53
  10. Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ at 10-03