Spain’s Alberto Contador failed to commemorate the memory of stricken Marco Pantani, but held off the threat of rivals Astana to stretch his lead over Fabio Aru on the 15th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Sunday.
Contador came over the finish line of the 165km ride from Marostica to Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, in third place, five seconds behind stage winner Mikel Landa, with Aru finishing a further second behind to remain second overall, but see his gap on Contador grow to 2 minutes, 35 seconds.
“I would have liked to win this stage because of Marco Pantani, who was a big inspiration for me when I was younger, but it was a very difficult stage and Landa was strong in the finale, when there were a lot of attacks. It was hard to control everything,” Contador said.
A day after regaining the race lead from Aru following his third-placed finish in the 14th stage time trial, Contador further underlined his status as race favorite with a commanding performance on the first day of climbing in the spectacular Dolomites.
“A lot can still happen in the race and we have a lot of work to do,” the Spaniard warned.
Contador’s Tinkoff-Saxo team had shouldered the burden of setting the pace on the penultimate climb, the 8km Passo Daone — a strategy which left two-time race runner-up Rigoberto Uran struggling to keep pace.
“It was a brutal day,” said Etixx-Quick Step rider Uran, whose bid for a podium finish now looks over after he trailed home among the also-rans on Sunday.
Tinkoff-Saxo’s tactic also produced the unwanted result of leaving Contador isolated among several Astana riders for the final climb, after Australian teammate Michael Rogers tailed off before the race through the valley.
However Contador, a former two-time winner of the Tour de France, who also won the Giro in 2008, acquitted himself handsomely on the final climb to Madonna di Campiglio — the scene of Italian Marco Pantani’s infamous exclusion from the race in 1999, an incident which is widely believed to have led to the former champion’s downfall and death from acute cocaine poisoning in a Rimini hotel room in February 2004.
Contador, who is bidding to become the first man since Pantani in 1998 to complete the Giro d’Italia-Tour de France double in the same year, did not have to fret until the final 3km when an acceleration by Landa sparked the hostilities.
Contador was soon on the Spaniard’s wheel, but despite pulling in front the race leader struggled to stretch his lead.
Aru and Yuri Trofimov of Katusha soon pedaled their way back to the leading pair with just over 2km remaining.
Landa tested his fellow Spaniard with another burst of speed, but, again, Contador countered the move.
Trofimov then launched a futile attempt for the stage win when he seared past his fellow leaders at 1km to go flag, but the Russian did not have the legs to open up a telling gap.
With Trofimov tiring and the finish line in sight, Landa seized his chance and accelerated past Trofimov in the final few hundred meters to claim his maiden Grand Tour victory.
“It’s an important win for me as much as for the team,” Landa said. “We tried to attack Contador because we outnumbered him... it’s given us some hope for the final stages this week. Nothing has changed in the team. We’re here to help Aru win the pink jersey and he is still our leader.”
Contador finished third to collect a time bonus which could prove useful over the coming days of climbing in the mountains.
Yesterday the peloton enjoyed the second and final rest day of the race, before tackling arguably the hardest stage of this year’s 98th edition today, a 174km ride beginning in Pinzolo which is to feature six climbs, including the final punt to the summit finish at Aprica.
The race finishes on Sunday in Milan.
DECREASED TENSION: The US players’ lawyers said that the soccer federation no longer disputes that the jobs of the women’s and men’s national teams require equal skill Women players suing the US Soccer Federation (USSF) said in in court documents filed on Tuesday that the federation has acknowledged that the jobs of male and female soccer players require equal skill. The language seemed to signal a decrease in tension between the parties after language in documents filed by the federation’s lawyers earlier last month provoked widespread outrage in saying that playing on the men’s national team required a higher level of skill based on speed and strength and carried greater responsibility. The fierce backlash — not only from the women players, but also from sponsors such as Coca-Cola —
A businessman who received millions of dollars for his work on Tokyo’s successful campaign to host the 2020 Olympic Games has said that he played a key role in securing the support of a former Olympics powerbroker suspected by French prosecutors of taking bribes to help Japan’s bid. Haruyuki Takahashi, a former executive at the advertising agency Dentsu, was paid US$8.2 million by the committee that spearheaded Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Games, financial records showed. Takahashi said the work included lobbying International Olympic Committee (IOC) members such as Lamine Diack, the ex-Olympics powerbroker, and that he gave Diack gifts, including digital
If British industry succeeds in saving lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, it would in part be thanks to the pioneering role played by Formula One (F1) racing teams in the country. Seven of F1’s 10 teams have joined forces with leading aerospace and engineering firms to ramp up production of ventilators, while Mercedes has also worked with medics and academics to produce an alternative breathing aid. Normally obsessed with improving the performance of cars that race at more than 320kph, the teams are stripping back lifesaving devices and using computer simulation to test whether more simplified models can be mass produced. The seven
BITING THE BULLET: Barcelona’s Lionel Messi said that top players would make contributions so that the club’s employees can collect 100 percent of their salary Three-quarters of Rugby Australia’s staff were temporarily laid off yesterday amid huge financial losses from the sport’s coronavirus-enforced shutdown, while Lionel Messi confirmed on Monday that Barcelona’s players would take a 70 percent pay cut to ensure that the club’s other employees are paid. The cuts to rugby staff were “the toughest decision in the game’s history,” governing body CEO Raelene Castle said. “Although extremely painful, they are necessary to ensure ... we are able to come out the other side of this global crisis, fully operational and ready to throw everything into the rebuild.” The sport has been hit hard by