Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador was well aware of what lay ahead on the decisive climb Monte Ologno, as he launched a strong attack at the bottom with 43km to go on stage 18. The determination would eventually net him 1’13” to his main rivals and at the finish line he had extended his overall lead to 5’15” over Mikel Landa.
While Philippe Gilbert won stage 18 from the breakaway, Alberto Contador extended his lead over his GC rivals after the Tinkoff-Saxo captain had put in an acceleration at the bottom of Monte Ologno – a climb he knew very well.
“Today's scenario was a bit different from what happened on the Mortirolo. Before the climb, my team was working hard on the front and expending energy because I knew that we had to be at the front going into the climb, and we wanted to avoid problems. In the event, Landa was caught behind, for the first time in the race. Overall, I'm very happy to have gained more time in the GC. I'm tired, because after the last climb it was a time trial, but every day is hard here. We'll see what happens tomorrow and the following day”, says Alberto Contador after the stage.
Stage 18 took the riders 170km from Lugano along the Lago Maggiore to Verbania with the biggest obstacle, the climb to Monte Ologno, coming after 124km of riding. With the breakaway approaching the climb more than 11 minutes ahead, it was obvious that the winner would be found out in front. However, that didn’t stop Alberto Contador from launching a planned attack at the 1st category climb.
“We knew that the climb was difficult just like the roads leading into the climb. In the morning meeting we agreed that we wanted a breakaway to go and build up a big lead. There were no riders, who were a danger to the GC, and since stage wins right now are secondary we focused on putting Alberto in a great position going into the climb focusing on the fight for the overall win”, explains Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh, who adds.
“Our boys were controlling the race at the front just before the climb and unfortunately a crash happened, where some riders were caught behind. We didn’t know who went down as the guys were at the very front focused on going full gas”.
“Alberto said before the stage that he knew the climb very well and that it was especially steep in the first part and at the bottom. So the idea was to go full gas, if we were at the front and the guys executed that strategy very well. Alberto went solo and he got company from Hesjedal right at the top, where the climb was more gradual. That wasn’t a disadvantage, especially not on the final flatter section towards the finish line, where they could work together”, adds Steven de Jongh.
Tinkoff-Saxo’s Matteo Tosatto notes that the stage started out at a fast pace and from there on it was a matter of keeping the captain safe before the Monte Ologno.
“It was another hard-fought stage, especially in the first hour, which saw a strong pace and an average speed of 48.5kmh. Everybody wanted to break away but we raced well and bridged the dangerous groups. Then the breakaway formed and that was to our advantage. The most important thing was to place Alberto at the front at the start of the first climb, which was a tricky one”, says Tosatto and adds:
“In fact, there was a crash and we managed to keep Alberto well positioned and safe. Overall, it was another tough day. However, we raced well and ticked another stage”.