NEVEGAL, Italy (VN) – Vicenzo Nibali has tried everything to knock Alberto Contador off balance during this Giro d’Italia.
He’s attacked on the climbs. He’s attacked on the descents. He’s isolated Contador without any Saxo Bank-Sungard teammates. And when he dropped the hammer in Tuesday’s climbing time trial, and Contador not only resisted but took more time en route to winning the stage, Nibali had to admit the obvious.
“I did my best today, I could not do better,” Nibali said at the line. “With second place more than five minutes before Contador, we have to say that now we are racing for second place.”
Contador surged to his second victory during this Giro in an emotional victory he dedicated to Xavier Tondo, the Spanish rider who was killed Monday in a freak accident when he was crushed between his car and a garage door.
“This is not a sad victory. It’s a victory I dedicate to Xavi, who was a great person and a great cyclist,” Contador said. “I couldn’t believe it when I heard yesterday that he had been killed. I wanted to win today for him.”
Riding in a high-cadence spin, Contador stopped the clock in 28 minutes, 55 seconds. Nibali was second at 34 seconds back and Michele Scarponi third at 38 seconds slower.
With the victory, Contador not only took more time out on his GC rivals, but stamped his authority on the race. Contador now leads Scarponi by 4:58, with Nibali slotting into third at 5:45 back.
“It’s clear that Contador is at another level,” Scarponi said. “I will keep fighting. There are still some hard stages ahead of us. I would like to win a stage, but winning the Giro is complicated. I will try to remain optimistic.”
Garmin-Cervélo’s David Millar was more straight-forward and stated the obvious.
“Alberto — you cannot touch him. He’s on a different level,” Millar said. “It’s a race for second. No one else has a chance.”