Giro d'Italia
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) insists that the...

Contador hits cruise control to Cervinia

Alberto Contador remains coy about his chances to win a stage at this year's Giro with Saturday's final mountainous day looming

CERVINIA, Italy (VN) — Fabio Aru (Astana) got his stage win, but what of Alberto Contador?

The Spaniard from Tinkoff-Saxo has made it clear that his priority is the maglia rosa, but, despite playing it coy, he wants to put his stamp on at least one stage.

Saturday’s 200 kilometer ride over the Colle delle Finestre, finishing in atop Sestriere, is now his last opportunity. Sunday’s ride to Milano will be a day for the sprinters.

With no risk of putting too much on the line, the uphill drag to Sestriere will undoubtedly see ‘el Pistolero’ fire a shot or two.

“Tomorrow the stage is really nice, with a very hard climb, perhaps harder than the climbs today,” Contador said of the penultimate stage. “My job will be to withstand the attacks, and it might even be a day when I attack, you never know.”

Contador seemed to be on on cruise control through Friday’s stage from Gravellana Toce to Cervinia, the second longest day of this Giro with three major climbs to overcome in its second half. It was far from easy — 236km and nearly 16,000 feet of climbing never will be — but fans did not see the same firey Contador, who lit up this Giro at nearly every opportunity over the last two and a half weeks.

With a cushion of 4:37 over Fabio Aru, even after conceding 1:18 on Friday, Conatdor had plenty of room to play defense, saving his legs as much as possible, up the climb to Cervinia. He never appeared to be in any difficulty, and he didn’t put a single pedal stroke down in anger.

Contador’s comparatively lackadaisical ride stood out in the context of an otherwise aggressive Giro d’Italia, which has seen him attack with a frequency that belies his lack of a stage win.

The decision to take Friday’s stage as it came, rather than go on the offensive, was premeditated.

“The team was good today, and I kept and eye on my closest rival, Mikel Landa [Astana]. You have to take a tactical decision in the end: Landa and Aru could have taken turns to attack all the way up the final climb,” Contador said.

“Obviously, I’d like to win a stage, but it is hard: the final group is always small, and I don’t have teammates with me because they work hard early in the stage, so the result today is perfect for me.”