Giro contenders struggle with Contador's dominance

Alberto Contador attacks, Giro d'Italia 2011, stage nine

Alberto Contador is leaving little left for his rivals at the Giro d'Italia. Today, the Spaniard of team Saxo Bank added another minute and a half into his rivals on the Grossglockner climb in Austria.

"No, the race is not over," Carlos Sastre told Cycling Weekly, "but it's going to be very hard."

Spain's Sastre (Team Geox) won the 2008 Tour de France. In 2009, he won two stages of the Giro d'Italia, but this year he's suffered. Today, he lost another seven minutes and 26 seconds.

Contador's immediate rivals - Vincenzo Nibali, Michele Scarponi, David Arroyo and Roman Kreuziger - lost 1'30". His closet rival, Sicilian Nibali (Liquigas), is 3'09" back after only two high-mountain stages.

The stages to Monte Zoncolan and Gardeccia this weekend, two of the race's hardest legs, offer Contador a chance to gain even more time.

"He's very strong at the moment, it's very difficult to beat him right now," continued Sastre on the climb, at 2137 metres. "If I knew how to beat him, I would. I don't know what to do."

Contador won the Giro in 2008 and the Tour three times. It's only the second time that he has participated in the Giro. He's not surprised he's leaving his rivals behind.

"I've trained well for the Giro," said Contador in a press conference. "It's the benefit of the work I did before the race. I've felt well in the last days, I worked hard to be here and be at this level."

"With a Contador like this," Eddy Merckx said in a TV interview, "what can you do?"

Belgian Merckx is considered cycling's best cyclist, he won the Giro and the Tour five times each in the late 60s and 70s. Besides Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador is considered the best modern day Grand Tour cyclist.

Contador, if he continues as he has, will win his second Giro next Sunday. He'll add to three wins at the Tour and one at the Vuelta a Espana.

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.