Tinkoff-Saxo and team captain Alberto Contador can take a well-deserved rest day after having defended and additionally extended the overall lead at Giro d’Italia on stage 15.Contador faced strong competition from Astana on the final climb to Madonna di Compiglio but managed to gain 7 seconds on main rival Fabio Aru.
The fight for the win on stage 15 came down to just four riders, Contador, Trofimov, Aru and teammate Landa after a fast pace throughout the stage had whittled down the group and scattered the pre-race favorites. Mikkel Landa ultimately took the win on the mythical climb, while Alberto Contador kept his attention on Aru.
“Everyone would like to win a Giro stage, especially on a climb like Madonna di Campiglio, but the race situation was complicated. The gradient wasn't exceptionally steep, which made it complicated, and Landa was very good, so it wasn't to be. There is still a long way to go, and everyone has good days and less good days. Today, Landa was stronger than Aru - that much was clear. But, as I said yesterday, I have to look carefully at each stage and, perhaps, instead of defending, attack, if my legs allow it”, says Alberto Contador before adding about the stage with strong ties to the late Marco Pantani.
“I have a lot of respect for my rivals but I'm happy with the good sensations I have. It is true that Astana have two riders in-form and I knew that when the attacks began Landa was strong. It was quite complicated to control but I looked after Aru and looked after the GC. As for Pantani, he was an inspiration for me because I started late in cycling, and I remember that, after seeing him ride some stages, I went out on my bike and tried to imitate him on the climbs”.
Following the race from the team car was Oleg Tinkov, who notes that he was pleased to see Alberto Contador extend his lead by 7 seconds to a total of 2’35”.
“I’m very excited and I’m glad that we still have the pink jersey. Tomorrow is a rest day, which is good after the long TT and this mountain stage. I think Alberto did a good race and he had a lot of rivals against him on the final part of the stage but he was strong”, says Oleg Tinkov.
Stage 15 took the riders from Marostica and deep into the Dolomites finishing atop Madonna di Campiglio after 165km of mountainous racing. Tinkoff-Saxo’s Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh underlines that yesterday’s long TT was felt by many riders.
“It was a tough day today and some of the guys were affected by the time trial yesterday. In general, a lot of riders lost time and looked tired. Alberto was a bit isolated in the last part of the stage, but it could have been different had Rogers and Kreuziger not crashed on the descent after Passo Daone. But Alberto is strong, he kept his cool and maintained his position and even gained seconds in the GC. We are in a good position before the rest day and the final very hard week”, states Steven de Jongh before elaborating.
“Aru felt that Alberto was strong in the final kilometers so they aimed to move Landa into third place in the GC and they did a good job. Of course Alberto would like a stage win but the most important aspect is to win the Giro and prepare for the Tour. At the end of the day, it’s the pink jersey in Milano that matters the most and we still have some very demanding stages ahead of us, where Alberto will be in his element”.