Time yet to talk Contador Giro-Tour double?
VALDOBBIADENE, Italy (VN) — With Alberto Contador’s Giro d’Italia lead sitting at a comfortable 2:28 after a decisive stage 14 time trial, it’s possible that he might start holding back for July’s Tour de France. In Saturday’s 59.4km race against the clock, the Tinkoff-Saxo rider cruised to third place on the stage in Valdobbiadene, putting in a time 2:47 minutes faster than his nearest GC rival Fabio Aru (Astana).
Contador wants to become only the eighth cyclist in history to win the Giro-Tour double. After already winning most every stage race in the sport, he made the double his goal this winter. The last cyclist to do so was Marco Pantani in 1998.
To achieve his lofty goal, Contador has to not only stay in charge of the Giro over the next week as it races towards Milan, but also come out with enough gas in the tank for the Tour de France. At the Tour, he will face fresh rivals – like Chris Froome (Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) – who did not race in Italy.
“It would be a mistake to hold back,” Contador said in a press conference after taking the leader’s pink jersey back from overnight leader Aru.
“I have to take Giro day by day to the finish, and then I can start to think about the Tour de France.”
Contador has already won six grand tours, or eight if you count the ones that were stripped from his palmares due to a doping suspension. He is skilled enough to know how to break down and attack his rivals, taking small bites out Aru over the last two weeks, but he is also wise enough to know how to hold off and save energy heading towards a goal.
On the horizon are five more summit finishes in the Alps, beginning with tomorrow’s climb to Madonna di Campiglio at 1715 meters. The ski resort finish Sunday will give Contador a chance to gauge his rivals one more time.
Despite spending a day in the pink jersey, Aru appears to be suffering more and more as the race continues due to a stomach bug and time off before the Giro. Sky’s Richie Porte crashed Friday on his hip and knee and is suffering. Rigoberto Urán (Etixx-Quick Step) is improving, but may not be doing so fast enough to bridge to Contador before the race ends May 31 in Milan.
Contador’s biggest rival could be misfortune in the form of a mechanical or a crash. In yesterday’s sprint stage, a massive pile up with 3.3 kilometers remaining also pulled him down. He jumped up quickly, but lost 36 seconds and the pink jersey.
“I didn’t lose too much time, I was able to grab another bike after I saw mine didn’t work, but same thing could happen again.”
His dominant performance in the long time trial saw him put the jersey right back on a day after losing it. The more Contador tightens his grip on a second Giro d’Italia win, the more followers will wonder how much he is holding back in hopes to put his name along the selective group of seven riders that have achieved the Giro-Tour double.