Giro d’Italia 2011 stage 15 photo gallery by Graham Watson>>

Spanish climber Mikel Nieve gave his Euskaltel-Euskadi squad its second mountain stage win in as many days at the Giro d’Italia on Sunday.

Nieve literally came out on top in the 229km, seven-and-a-half hour slog from Conegliano and finishing atop Gardeccia-Val di Fassa – widely regarded as this year’s toughest stage. On Saturday, Nieve’s team-mate Igor Anton won the stage to Zoncolan.

Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone) finished second after a day-long mountain points mission, with overall leader Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) in third.

Nieve’s expolits have moved him up to fifth overall behind Contador. Michele Scarponi is now second overall at 4-20 after Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) struggled with the day’s pace and slipped to third overall at 5-11. His attack on the descent of the Giau was daring, but proved to be ultimately fruitless.

Peter Kennaugh was top British finisher on the stage in 89th place, 29-57 behind Nieve. Britain’s Russell Downing (Sky), riding in his first Grand Tour, safely finished within the time cut. It now looks certain that he’ll finish his first Grand Tour, and all despite nursing a nasty headcold for the best part of a week.

As the race reaches its final week, it is hard to see where any of Contador’s rivals can now claw back some time from the Spaniard. His performance in the mountains has been consistent, and he must rank as one of the favourites for Tuesday’s decisive 12.7km mountain time trial from Belluno to Nevegal.

On Monday, though, the riders have their second rest day. A welcome respite from the almost constant onslaught of mountain stages.

The 2011 Giro d’Italia concludes on Sunday, May 29, in Milan.

Results
Giro d’Italia 2011, stage 15: Conegliano to Gardeccia-Val di Fassa, 229km
1. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi in 7-27-14

2. Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone at 1-41
3. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo Bank-Sungard at 1-51
4. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 1-57
5. John Gadret (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale at 2-28
6. Jose Rujano (Ven) Androni Giocattoli at 2-35
7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 3-34
8. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at same time
9. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana at 4-01
10. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank at 4-13

Overall classification after stage 15
1. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank-Sungard in 62-14-42

2. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 4-20
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 5-11
4. John Gadret (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale at 6-08
5. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 7-03
6. Jose Rujano (Ven) Androni Giocattoli at 8-39
7. Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC at 8-46
8. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana at 8-58
9. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 9-20
10. David Arroyo (Spa) Movistar at 9-30

Passo Giau, Giro d

Passo Giau

David Millar, Giro d

Brit David Millar still sporting his mountain bike cassette

Stefano Garzelli, Giro d
Stefano Garzelli hoovered up the points to give himself a sizeable lead in the mountains competition

Alberto Contador attacks, Giro d

Alberto Contador attacks

Mikel Nieve wins, Giro d

Mikel Nieve wins

Giro d

Giro d’Italia 2011: Latest news
Controversial Crostis climb removed from Giro route
Sky leader Lofkvist loses more time at the Giro
Giro contenders struggle with Contador’s dominance
Contador widens Giro advantage but Tour doping case waits
Porte reflects, one year after Giro success
Le Mevel goes on attack for Giro’s pink jersey
Giro fines Contador for missing press conference
Cavendish responds to ‘team car’ accusations at Giro
Giro d’Italia News Shorts (May 15)
Giro’s Sicilian cyclists proud to face Mount Etna
Contador surprises at Giro with attack ahead of mountains
Contador minds food at Giro as CAS decision nears
Weening supported by Rabobank and model Kroes
Local lad Appollonio bears fruit in Fiuggi
Giro d’Italia News Shorts (May 12 edition)
Blythe finding way in second Grand Tour
Leopard-Trek withdraws from Giro d’Italia
Leopard-Trek uncertain to continue in Giro
Tuesday’s Giro stage in memory of Weylandt
Giro doctor describes actions to save Weylandt
Wouter Weylandt killed in Giro crash
Giro news shorts (May 8)
Cavendish likely to take Giro lead tomorrow
Giro 2011: Who will win?

Giro d’Italia 2011: Stage reports

Stage 14: Anton conquers Zoncolan in shortened stage

Stage 13: Contador consolidates Giro overall as Rujano takes stage

Stage 12: Cavendish holds off Appollonio to take second victory

Stage 11: Gadret grabs dramatic stage win

Stage 10: Cavendish opens his Giro account

Stage nine: Contador storms Etna to take Giro lead

Stage eight: Gatto springs late attack to take win

Stage seven: Neo-pro De Clercq wins by a whisker

Stage six: Ventoso steals Giro stage six win

Stage five: Weening holds on to take stage and maglia rosa

Stage four: Tearful Farrar and Leopard-Trek lead riders across stage four finish line

Stage three: Vicioso victory overshadowed by Weylandt crash

Stage two: Petacchi wins as Cavendish takes lead

Stage one: HTC-Highroad wins Giro’s opening team time trial

Giro d’Italia 2011: Photo galleries
Stage 15 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 14 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 13 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 12 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 11 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 10 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage nine photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage eight photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage seven photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage four photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson

Giro d’Italia 2011: Live text coverage

Giro d’Italia stage 11 live text updates

Giro d’Italia 2011 stage seven live text updates

Giro d’Italia 2011 stage five live text updates

Follow the 2011 Giro d’Italia live with Cycling Weekly

Giro d’Italia 2011: Start list

Giro d’Italia 2011: Start list

Giro d’Italia 2011: TV schedule

Giro d’Italia 2011: British Eurosport TV schedule

Related links
Giro d’Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index