Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) won his second stage at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina, but it wasn’t enough to knock Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) out of the leader’s jersey.
Contador won Friday’s “queen stage” that included a hard climb at the Mirador del Potrero, with ramps as steep as 15 percent.
“I am very happy. If at the start of the race they told I was going to win two stages, I wouldn’t believe them,” Contador said. “The climb was very difficult. I rode with 36×28 and that allowed me to climb well. Leipheimer is very strong and he’s a worthy winner of the race, he deserves it. I wanted to try because that’s what I like to do, but when I attacked, I realized that I wasn’t going to take back the one minute that I was behind in GC. I preferred to go easy and go for the stage win.”
Leipheimer – who roared into the leader’s jersey with a big win in Thursday’s time trial stage — responded to Contador’s attacks as four riders duked it on the final climb. Also fighting for the stage were Dani Diaz and Jose Serpa. Contador punched his way across the line victorious while Leipheimer was third in the stage.
Leipheimer defended his leader’s jersey going into this weekend’s final stages, with Contador climbing into second, now at 46 seconds back, as well as taking the climber’s jersey. Diaz clawed into third overall at 1:31 back while Stefan Schumacher (Christina Watches) settled into fourth at 1:36 back.
The 6th San Luis tour continues Saturday with the three-climb, 201km stage from Lujan to Quines.