With just one easy day remaining, Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador is now as close as possible to winning the Giro d’Italia 2015. But the captain had to dig deep and use his experience, as he found himself in difficulties on the towering Cima Coppi of Colle delle Finestre. Now leading by 2’02”, Contador acknowledges that he didn’t have his best of days but remained calm to secure the pink jersey.
Upon crossing the line in Sestriere after the last decisive stage of the Giro, Alberto Contador tells that he at no point believed that the jersey was in danger.
“Today was not a great stage for me. I wasn't feeling good, probably because of the accumulated effort, but I knew I had a good cushion in the GC and, even though there were plenty of kilometers to go before the finish, I preferred to ride at my own rhythm. There was never a moment, where I thought the jersey was in danger. I remained calm because I knew that the difference in speeds between the groups was going to be small”, says Alberto Contador, who lost 1’40” on stage 20.
With nothing, but a disaster, in the way of the overall win, Contador is already directing his focus towards the next big goal in July.
“We'll have a good dinner tonight, although I have to watch my weight for the Tour. This Giro d'Italia is in the bag now, with just tomorrow's stage to come, so I'm already thinking of my next target”.
A dangerous attack from Mikel Landa on the 18.5km Colle delle Finestre saw Contador dropped. On the summit he had lost 1’30” but regained time on the run-in towards the final climb to Sestriere, where Fabio Aru caught up with his teammate and won the stage. Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh admits that there was a moment of tension on Finestre in the team car, but that he regained his calm, as Contador kept a good rhythm.
“Alberto definitely made a good show for the viewers, not so much for us right there on Finestre”, says Steven de Jongh with a smile. “He had a difficult moment and he also said that he found it hard to ride out of the saddle on the gravel sections. Of course, when he also got dropped by Aru, we had a scary moment in the car but as we realized that he wasn’t empty on the descent and the flat part we cooled down again”.
“The gap stabilized and we asked if he wanted gels and energy but he preferred to eat on the downhill section. So we gave him the time references and he controlled the pace very well. Although he didn’t have a good day, we saw the determination and experience of Alberto”.
With just 185km of flat riding left from Torino to Milan and a time margin of 2’02” to Aru, the overall victory seems as close to certain as possible.
“The team has worked really hard for this. Everyday they have been at the front making sure that Alberto was safe and in the right position controlling the race. The amount of work that they’ve done is amazing and I take my hat off for that. At the same time we must recognize that Astana has been the strongest team in the mountains and today they had six guys in the front group on Finestre. But in the end, we have the pink jersey and all of the guys can be really proud”, finishes Steven de Jongh.