Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador directed his full attention towards the fight for pink on the final climb to Cervinia, where he finished together with main rival Landa. The team captain now leads the Giro d’Italia by 4’37” to Aru, who won the stage. With just two days left to race, the scene is set for the final defense of the jersey.
Crossing the line in Cervinia at 2001m above sea level after a long 236km stage in the high mountains, Alberto Contador expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the stage.
“The team was good today, and I kept an eye on my closest rival, Mikel Landa. You have to take a tactical decision in the end: Landa and Aru could have taken turns to attack all the way up the final climb. Obviously, I'd like to win a stage, but it is hard. The final group is always small and I don't have teammates with me because they work hard earlier in the stage, so the result today is perfect for me”, says Alberto Contador and adds:
“Anyway, if you ask anyone what they would prefer, a stage win or the Maglia Rosa, they'll say the Maglia Rosa, so I'm very, very happy because I got through another very hard day. The final climb was tough, and Aru was strong and took a great stage win. He's now 2nd in the GC, and I wish him a great future. Tomorrow the stage is really nice, with a very hard climb, perhaps harder than the climbs today. My job will be to withstand the attacks, and it might even be a day, where I will attack, you never know”.
Stage 19 from Gravellona Toce to Cervinia seemed designed to add to the fatigue of the weary riders, who are just two days from Milan after, what many asserts to have been, one of the toughest editions in recent years. 236km with three cat. 1 climbs took its toll, tells Michael Rogers.
“It was an extremely tough day and a fast start. A lot of the teams that are still looking for results set a hard pace and then Astana rode at a high hard tempo with the objective of winning the stage. In what regards our objectives, Ivan Basso and I were able to stay with Alberto until the final 9k where he could control the events himself”, explains Michael Rogers, who elaborates on the efforts made.
“Today, I consumed 6400 calories so it was a very, very tough day and the fatigue of the race is of course catching up with me and everybody else. We have two stages to go and we still have Alberto in a very good position considering the Maglia Rosa, so we will do our best tomorrow to protect that and keep it all the way to Milan”.
Tinkoff-Saxo’s Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh notes that final climb was affected by the tactical situation.
“It was a good day for us today. The team and then finally Alberto kept everything under control and he remained focused on the overall win. That meant that he had his attention on Landa, as he knew that the gap to Aru was big enough to let him go. Tomorrow is the last hard mountain stage before we reach Milan and we can take a defensive approach knowing that we have two hard climbs left before the final flat stage. We will see what happens but for now, it looks as if the situation is under control but we must remain attentive until the end”, comments Steven de Jongh.