BELLUNO, Italy (VN) – Vicenzo Nibali vows to go down fighting in the Giro d’Italia and has no regrets about going on the attack despite losing time in Sunday’s epic trek across the Dolomites.
Nibali attacked on the descent of the Gaiu climb, gaining nearly a minute on arch-rival Alberto Contador and putting the Spaniard under heavy pressure that left him isolated without teammates. But the effort backfired when Nibali struggled to keep pace up the Fedaia and the final push to Gardeccia.
Nibali not only lost time to Contador, but also to podium rival Michele Scarponi, and dropped from second to third, now 5:11 back.
“I attacked to win the pink jersey,” Nibali said after the stage. “In all honesty, I look back at the stage in a positive light. I have no regrets. It was good to try.”
Nibali said the accumulative effort of the heavy climbing stages across the Dolomites sapped him of his strength just when he opened up a promising gap on Contador at the base of the Fedaia. Perhaps fueled by his strong ride up the Zoncolan the day before, Nibali’s plan backfired when he eventually ended up losing time.
“I told the team to work to wear down Saxo Bank and on the Giau I attacked on the descent,” he said. “Contador got some help from (Pablo) Lastras (from Movistar) and my move was nullified. On the Fedaia, I paid for my efforts from yesterday. The next descent was very technical and I was able to regain contact with the favorites. On the final climb, I measured my efforts because I knew my rivals would be getting tired too.”
Nibali’s podium hopes are still very strong and could likely make up the time differences to Michele Scarponi – the pair is separated by 49 seconds – with two time trials in the final week.
Contador, meanwhile, was able to count on the collective interests of the top GC contenders to help him control Nibali’s aggression when he was isolated without Saxo Bank teammates with 50km still to race in Sunday’s stage.
“Lastras wasn’t helping me, he was riding for Arroyo, who was still there,” Contador said. “Everyone was racing for their own interests in a situation like that and I could profit from that.”
PINK: Contador widened his GC lead to 4:20 to Scarponi, with Nibali third at 5:11 back. Gadret is fourth at 6:08 while Antón dropped from third to 11th at 9:37 back.
RED: Contador leads Scarponi with 133 points to 87 in the points jersey competition.
GREEN: Garzelli attacked his way into the climber’s jersey, which he also won in 2009. He leads Nieve with 62 points to 39, Contador is third with 38.
WHITE: Kreuziger continues to hold a 2:16 lead to Rabobank’s Kruijswijk, with Garmin’s Stetina fourth at 29:54 back in the young rider’s category.
TEAM: Astana leads Movistar by 3:40, with Ag2r third at 8:30.