Giro d'Italia

Contador hints Saxo might let pink jersey ride away

NAPOLI, Italy (VN) — Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) on Monday expressed satisfaction about grabbing the pink jersey in Sunday's windy ride up Mount Etna, but suggested that the team might let it slip away if a breakaway of non-threatening riders makes a play for pink.

2011 Giro d'Italia stage 9
Contador might be willing to pass on the maglia rosa for a few days. Photo: Graham Watson

NAPOLI, Italy (VN) — Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) on Monday expressed satisfaction about grabbing the pink jersey in Sunday’s windy ride up Mount Etna, but suggested that the team might let it slip away if a breakaway of non-threatening riders makes a play for pink.

Contador made important gains on his top GC rivals with his impressive Sunday double on Etna and took stock during the Giro’s first rest day of what lies ahead. Letting go, if only temporarily, of the pink jersey might be in the cards.

“We will take it day to day, but the goal is to have the pink jersey on May 29 in Milano,” Contador said. “The Giro is very difficult to control, especially with these stages so long and so hard. It’s not an obsession for us to keep the jersey.”

Contador will carry momentum into the second half of the Giro after his stunning victory that left his rivals gasping in his wake. Despite the cooperation among several GC riders and their respective teammates, Contador was able to spin away to earn his first career Giro stage win and nab the pink jersey. The 2008 Giro champ said the goal Sunday was not necessarily the pink jersey, but to open up time gaps to his top rivals.

“There are some who have lost some time but I don’t know if it’s because a bad day or because they aren’t in good shape, like Menchov and Joaquím Rodríguez, who didn’t have a brilliant day yesterday, but it will be really hard. Everyone is going to attack, to attack from afar, they will send riders ahead and it will be very difficult. I’m ready for everything,” Contador continued. “I have full confidence in my team, but this Giro is very difficult to control with just one team. I hope we can have everything under control.”

Contador’s rivals were stunned Sunday that he was able to attack from a relatively far distance — at about 6km to go — and open up gaps despite collective interests from behind and headwind up the road. He shrugged off suggestions in some media reports that he’s now the new boss of the peloton.

“I don’t think at all I’m the big patron. Yesterday was a good day, I could take some differences and it was very important, but is insignificant to be the patron or not, because most eyes are on me and the whole world is watching what I do,” he said. “I don’t think that’s going to change the behavior of my rivals.”