Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) underlined his rising 2014 form by convincingly winning Tirreno-Adriatico in San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy, on Tuesday.
The short 9.1-kilometre final individual time trial stage was all but a formality for Contador to retain the blue leader’s jersey, starting the day with a two minute and eight second advantage over second-placed Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and with two stage wins already in the bag.
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However, Quintana put in a surprising ride to beat Contador’s time in the final test – something that will be of concern to the Colombian climber’s Grand Tour rivals – to close the gap slightly and end up 2-05 down on Contador overall. Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) rounded out the podium in third spot at 2-14.
It’s Contador’s first stage race victory since winning the Vuelta a Espana in 2012, and the Spaniard is back to looking like the rider he was before serving his high-profile doping ban for clenbuterol.
In winning the final stage, Adriano Malori (Movistar) took perhaps the most significant victory of his career, with a giant-slaying performance to beat established time trial stars Fabian Cancellara (Trek), Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and current world champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).
Cancellara finished six seconds adrift of Malori, with Wiggins in third at 11 seconds. British TT champion Alex Dowsett placed sixth, at 20 seconds.
Wiggins will now turn his attention to challenging for Paris-Roubaix on April 13, and will once again come up against Cancellara.
There were several notable non-starters on the final stage, including Ian Stannard (Sky), Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol).
Tirreno-Adriatico 2014, stage seven: San Benedetto del Tronto, 9.1km ITT
1. Adriano Malori (Ita) Movistar in 10-13
2. Fabian Cancellara (Sui) Trek Factory Racing at 6 secs
3. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky at 11 secs
4. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 15 secs
5. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Shimano at 19 secs
6. Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar at 20 secs
7. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 22 secs
8. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing at 23 secs
9. Stijn Devolder (Bel) Trek Factory Racing at 24 secs
10. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge at 26 secs
57. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp at 51 secs
132. Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky at 1-19
141. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 1-25
DNS Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky
Final overall classification
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo in 25-28-45
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 2-05
3. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo at 2-14
4. Jean Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale at 2-39
5. Julian Arredondo (Col) Trek Factory Racing at 2-54
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale at 3-04
7. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Trek Factory Racing at 3-09
8. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha at 3-16
9. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana at 3-16
10. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky at 3-19
53. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky at 28-49
83. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp at 42-10
107. Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky at 55-29
127. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 1-02-13
Images from the final time trial stage of Tirreno-Adriatico 2014
Omega Pharma-QuickStep set Mark Cavendish up for perfect win on stage six of Tirreno-Adriatico
Selection of images as Mark Cavendish takes the sprint win on stage six of Tirreno-Adriatico 2014
Spanish Grand Tour champion Alberto Contador back to pre-doping ban form at Tirreno-Adriatico