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May 30 - Alberto has met the president more times than Forrest Gump, but the victory tributes still give him goose bumps

Esperanza Aguirre, president of Madrid, and Alberto Contador, winner of the 2011 Giro d'Italia

Contador with the golden scrolling Giro trophy (Javier Soriano/AFP)

Giro winner back on Spanish soil

Alberto Contador arrived home to a hero’s welcome today after clinching his second Giro d’Italia win Sunday in Milan. After touching down at Barajas airport in Madrid, he was greeted by a crowd and immediately asked the burning question of the day, to which he answered, “If I can balance the preparation, I’ll go to the Tour.”

From Barajas, he was off to the Real Casa de Correos—the government center of regional Madrid—where he was welcomed by president Esperanza Aguirre. A tribute followed, with speeces, congratulations, and a video of the best moments of Contador’s three weeks in Italy.

President Aguirre exchanged gifts with the champion—a commemorative plaque for him and a maglia rosa for her—then donning the pink jersey, she took the microphone. “I know that this edition of the Giro was of greatest difficulty. You’ve had to pedal more than 3,500 kilometers in 22 stages (sic), some of them very hard,” she said.

“Your palmarés are already impressive, but we wish you a future full of successes because you’re going to win many races, and I want to tell you, on behalf of everyone, that we wish you the best. Many congratulations for this Giro,” concluded the president of the Autonomous Community of Madrid.

Pinto homecoming

From the city, Alberto Contador headed home to Pinto for what has become, after six grand tour wins, a tradition: a reception in the city hall square in front of thousands of friends and neighbors. In addition to speaking from the balcony and lifting the trophy high for everyone to see, Alberto also offered a press conference.

“This triumph is like others, the fruit of sacrifice,” he said. “It seems easy but there are many hours of sacrifice and many hours of training behind it.”

“It’s been the hardest route I’ve ever done. Now I’m really tired and I’ve got to disconnect, both physically and mentally. If I go to the Tour, it’s because I’m at a hundred percent, because I want to fight for the race. And now what I want is to enjoy this victory and rest,” said the hometown boy and winner of three Tours, two Giros and a Vuelta.

Asked, inevitably, about the CAS situation’s impact on his Tour participation, he responded briefly that the matter was in the hands of his legal team. “I’m doing my year keeping some distance from that and my participation depends only on how I recover,” he repeated.

About the error committed by the Giro organization in using a pre-constitutional version of the Spanish anthem for the final podium ceremony, he commented that “it’s only an anecdote” and he doesn’t know “what else I’m ever going to get played for me,” and that he was only concentrating on enjoying the victory.

“It’s always touching to be received like this in your hometown, and it still gives me goose bumps,” Contador said, visibly moved by his reception.


Giro d'Italia winner comes home to Pinto

President of Madrid, Esperanza Aguirre and Alberto Contador (Javier Soriano/AFP)


May 29 - Contador takes overall title, red jersey, blue jersey, Most Combattive, to add to Stage 9 and Stage 16 wins!

Giro d'Italia Stage 21

A magical moment in Milan's Piazza del Duomo (EFE)

Stage 21, Sunday, May 29: Milano – Milano (ITT), 26 km

Alberto Contador won the 94th Giro d’Italia today in Milan after finishing the Stage 21 ITT in third place, 36” behind stage winner David Millar. He was awarded the Giro’s iconic golden spiral trophy in Milan’s Piazza del Duomo in a ceremony that was, in a word, magical.

Alberto didn’t target the Stage 21 individual time trial for victory, having said yesterday that he planned to be careful on the curves and savor his overall win. Nevertheless, his effort in the earlier phases of the 26-kilometer flat course was strong enough to allow him to stretch the tempo in the finishing straight and post up with drama, saving his trademark pistol shot for the moment he crossed the line.

Within moments of dismounting, reporters gathered to get his reaction. Alberto told them, “I’m just thrilled. The atmosphere in the piazza is amazing. It’s been a dream finale, like you could hardly ever imagine.”

With tears, he continued, “We’ve all had good moments, but the final result for me has been really good. I’ve had the good fortune to win. I rarely cry, but this is very emotional.”

Fight for pink! Emotions remained close to the surface throughout the podium ceremony where, after three weeks of hors categorie challenge, Alberto Contador roughhoused with colleagues Scarponi (2nd) and Nibali (3rd) amid laughter and bottles of spewing champagne.

Today’s triumph makes Contador’s second Giro title and his sixth career grand tour win, adding to the list of Tour de France 2007, 2009 and 2010, Giro d’Italia 2008, and Vuelta a España 2008.

Only six riders in history have won more grand tours: Eddy Merckx (11), Bernanrd Hinault (10), Jacques Anquetil (8), Lance Armstrong , Fausto Coppi and Miguel Indurain (7).

In addition, Contador now takes his place on the list of fifteen two-time winners of the Giro d’Italia, a list that includes only one other rider currently in career—Ivan Basss (2010, 2006)—and one other Spaniard—Miguel Indurain (1993, 1992). Interestingly, each of Indurain’s Giro wins was followed by a win in the Tour de France in the same season, a feat that Alberto Contador is considering attempting in July.


Bjarne Riis: ”It's a huge win for Alberto and for the entire team and obviously, I'm immensely proud of our achievements. Alberto has shown incredible stability and that's the main reason that he's so successful. Besides from winning overall, he wins the point classification and is second in the mountain classification which underlines his stability and stamina. The course of this year's Giro has been extremely demanding which has been of his advantage and in my opinion, he has done an errorless race.”

“The team has delivered a formidable effort and each and every rider has lived up to the role they have been assigned. We have successfully defined each rider's abilities and managed to delegate the different tasks accurately so no one was unaware of what to do next. We have been able to work in the front of the pack and at other times we have been able to, and dared to, share the responsibility with other teams. I'm very proud of the whole team.”

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 21, 3rd (0:36 Millar—30:13). Contador in the GC, 1st (84:05:14)

Alberto also wins the maglia rossa for points, the Azzurri d’Italia jersey, and the prize for Most Combattive Rider.

TOP TEN: 1 Contador (84:05:14), 2 Scarponi (6:10), 3 Nibali (6:56), 4 Gadret (10:04), 5 Rodríguez (11:05), 6 Kreuziger (11:28), 7 Rujano (12:12), 8 Menchov (12:18), 9 Kruijswijk (13:51), 10 Sivtsov (14:10)




May 28 - Contador rides comfortably across Colle delle Finestre to Sestriere with favorites, augments advantage again

Giro d'Italia Stage 20

Alberto riding in the pink jersey on the Colle delle Finestre (Alessandro Trovati/AP)

Stage 20, Saturday, May 28: Verbania – Sestriere, 242 km

Alberto Contador hung with the favorites over the Finestre to Sestriere today, finishing in eighth place behind stage winner Vasili Kiryienka and keeping firm hold of the GC.

Kiryienka, a Belorussian rider from Movistar Team, crossed the line solo and pointed to the sky in memory of his teammate Xavier Tondo, who died last Monday.

Contador rode easily with Scarponi, Nibali, Rujano, Menchov, Rodriguez, Kreuziger, Gadret, and Kruijswijk - the sensational group of aces who have animated this Giro. Today they played their last cards on the road against maglia rosa Contador, hoping that after two weeks of dominance he would show weakness.

They fought tooth and nail, but Contador was never in trouble. During the most difficult part of today's stage, the sterreto section of the mighty Colle delle Finestre, he rode cooly in the rumbleseat, enjoying the slipstream.

Tomorrow is the final stage of the 94th Giro d'Italia, a shortened 26-kilometer version of the orginial ITT route. Contador's start time is 16:58.

Contador: “In the time trial, I want to enjoy the victory”

MARCA | Alberto Contador, virtual winner of the Giro d’Italia, said that this Sunday he won’t takes risks in the final-stage time trial which will decide second and third podium places.

“I’m going to take tomorrow’s time trial calmly. I want to enjoy the victory and I’m not going to take too many risks on the curves,” said Contador. About the names that will accompany him in the box in Milan, Contador said that the final time trial could still change the currently established places: Scarponi, 2nd and Nibali, 3rd.

“The podium still hasn’t been decided because tomorrow’s time trial remains. I think that Nibali won’t be very happy with the cutback of the route (from 31 kilometers to 26 kilometers), but there’ll be excitement until the end because the time gap between Scarponi and Nibali (54 seconds) isn’t decisive,” he emphasized.

Asked whether he’s in the best moment, physically, of his career, Contador was doubtful. “I don’t know if I’m stronger than ever, it’s always difficult to draw conclusions about that. In some ways, like my body fat level, it is true that I’ve never been better than now,” he said.

About this Saturday’s stage, with the last climbs from the ’94 edition of the Giro, Contador was that it wasn’t simple. “Today wasn’t exactly an easy day, it was very hard and mainly, very long. The escape was large and my team was forced to work,” he said.

In the final part of the stage, said the virtual winner of the Giro, “I dedicated myself to controlling Nibali and Scarponi and avoiding any problems. The closer I got to the finish line, the closer victory looked, and the truth is, I became very happy, an emotional moment that tomorrow has to be made official in Milan.”

Giro d'Italia Stage 20

Alberto and Jesus find look for Alberto's name inscribed on the Giro trophy for his 2008 win. (as.com)


May 28 - “It’s difficult to win the Tour and the Giro in a year, but not impossible”

EUROPA PRESS | The five-time Tour de France champion and two-time winner of the Giro d’Italia, Miguel Indurain, says that “it’s difficult but not impossible” to win the Tour and the Giro in the same year, a goal that Alberto Contador has set for himself this year. Contador is on the verge of winning his second Giro and in July it's possible that he could win his fourth Tour, since CAS has postponed his hearing until after the summer.

“It’s difficult to win the Tour and the Giro in one year, but not impossible,” the former cyclist from Navarre told Europa Press at an event on Saturday morning.

Indurain, the only Spanish cyclist to win both competitions in one year (1992 and 1993), has advised Alberto Contador that if he wants to follow in his footsteps and win the Tour and the Giro in the same year, it’s imperative to “guard your strength very carefully” and “be very convinced and plan the season very well.”

About the 2011 Giro, which the Pinteño is currently disputing, Indurain said that “he’s holding up well” but that “he doesn’t have it until they get to Milan.” He also said that in spite of everything that Contador has endured this season “he’s motivated” and “into the race” and that winning the Tour “depends solely on him.”

Indurain also wanted to praise Alberto Contador, saying that “he’s doing a very good season and some very good years” which are allowing him to build up “an important palmares.” About statements made by Riis that Contador will make history, Indurain remembered that “for Contador, it’s still far from over.”

Indurain also spoke about the competition that Contador will encounter during the course of the Tour. He said that “it’s always very hard” and that “it’s possible to overlook one” since he says that, for a rider with Contador’s reputation and track record, the rivals could try to “walk all over you,” and that you have to be “fighting and working every day” to keep this from happening.

“He’s in career, he’s riding, we don’t know what he’s going to do, but he’s closer. He has three and he’s still 28 years old. He has a lot of kilometers in his legs, he’s ridden a lot of races. It depends on him and on how he does in the races, but he’s the only one active who could manage it,” concluded Spain’s record holder in Tour de France wins.


May 27 - To Astana, with love

Giro d'Italia Stage 19

Tiralong posts up for his first professional victory (LUk Benies/AFP/Getty Images)

Stage 19, Friday, May 27: Bergamo – Macugnaga, 209 km

Alberto Contador attacked and overtook his ex-teammate, Sicilian rider Paolo Tiralongo of the Astana team, on the slopes of Macugnaga today and ushered him to his first-ever professional victory.

However hopeless Tiralongo might have felt when he saw the maglia rosa coming like a Jove, when the the Sicilian posted up for victory, surely it felt like Christmas Day.

Complete report to follow

Giro d'Italia Stage 19

Contador's happiest smile yet in the 2011 Giro came after helping his friend get a win (LUk Benies/AFP/Getty Images)

“It was a perfect stage for us," said Saxo Bank-SunGard director Philippe Maduit. "Everyone worked and did their job perfectly and especially it was good to see Alberto being surrounded by teammates until the very last part of the climb which undoubtedly made him calm and power to jump forward the way he did. Tomorrow, we face our final stage as a team and primarily, our objective is to maintain our lead. If Alberto feels good and he's in a favorable position, a stage win would only be an extra bonus for all of us."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 19, 2nd (s.t. Tiralongo--5:26:27). Contador in GC, 1st (77:11:24)



May 26 - Cobblestones at Bergamo Alta allow an escape that makes Contador's life a little easier

Giro d'Italia Stage 18

Contador in the pack in Stage 18 (LUk Benies/AFP/Getty Images)

Stage 18, Thursday, May 26: Morbegno – San Pellegrino Terme, 151 km

MARCA | Alberto Contador, maglia rosa of the Giro d’Italia, said at the end of Stage 18 that right now he is not thinking about the Tour de France in spite of CAS having announced the postponement of his upcoming hearing.

“Right now I’m only interested in the maglia rosa, I’ll discuss whether or not to go to the Tour when the Giro’s over,” Contador said.

Asked if he’s equipped with a sufficient team for tackling the Tour de France in case he decides to go, the Madrilenian cyclist was fully confident in his Saxo Bank teammates.

“I have a great team for any race and I’m not worried about that angle. I’m concentrating on the Giro and there are more riders on Saxo Bank who’re at home and who’re set for the Tour, like the Sorensens and Benjamin Noval,” he said.

About Thursday’s stage, which finished at an average of 45 kilometers per hour, Contador said that from the point at which the escape formed the day was a best-case scenario for him and his team.

“The stage surprised me again because it was very active. It was an amazing day, with a very high initial pace. In the first two hours, we had to be in control. Then the race changed on the pavé and the escape formed. For me and my team it was a perfect day,” he concluded.


Stage 18 from Morbegno to San Pellegrino Terme was short, a welcome relief at just 151 km, since as Contador had said prior to this stage, "There's still a lot of Giro left. four stages and a lot of kilometers remain, it's almost equivalent to Tirreno-Adriatico or Paris-Nice."

The parcours featured only the sharp rise into Bergamo's old town (topped at kilometer 88.7) before climbing the Passo di Ganda (summit at kilometer 120.9). The race was quick but quiet until the riders pedaled up the cobbled slopes into Bergamo Alta that tourists conquer by funicular.

The pack broke apart at last, thanks to the cobbles, and the escape of the day was launched. Saxo Bank-SunGard sent two men ahead - the climbers Navarro and Hernandez - leaving Contador in the capable hands of the other teammates. From this point on, Liquigas and Lampre worked in front and Saxo could take it somewhat easy.

Three from the escape stayed away until the finish, where Eros Capecchi beat Marco Pinotti and Kevin Seeldrayers in a sprint.

DS Philippe Maduit explained after the stage: ”We did 53 kilometers in the first hour of the stage so it was extremely fast. Our plan was like yesterday to have Dani (Navarro) in a break to control the race and later, also Hernandez joined the front group which was a perfect scenario for us. From now on, everyone in the GC fights for their position so everyone's playing rather defensive. But tomorrow might be different as we have an uphill finish over 21 kilometers. However, the ascent isn't too demanding and I believe the most important thing for us is to control and follow the nearest opponents."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 18, 41st (6:04 Eros Capecchi). Contador in GC, 1st (71:45:09). Points 1st, KOM 2nd, Azzuri d'Italia 1st, Most combattive 1st.

TOP TEN: 1 Contador (71:45:09), 2 Scarponi (4:58), 3 Nibali (5:45), 4 Gadret (7:35), 5 Sivtsov (9:12), 6 Rujano (9:18), 7 Nieve (9:22), 8 Menchov (9:38), 9 Kreuziger (9:47), Rodríguez (10:25)



May 26 - Statement from the Court of Arbitration for Sport

Lausanne - Following the agreement between the Appellants and the Respondents, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has accepted to postpone the hearing in this matter in order to give to all parties concerned reasonable time to prepare for such hearing and to guarantee the participation in person of witnesses and experts. Accordingly, the CAS Panel has decided to cancel the hearing initially scheduled for 6-7-8 June 2011.

New hearing dates will be fixed as soon as possible.


According to teammate Micheal Mørkøv, Alberto radiates calm and self-confidence

Michael Mørkøv May 23 | On the Giro's second rest day, Michael Mørkøv predicted to felt.dk that his team captain, Alberto Contador, would win the time trial, and Alberto Contador lived up to expectations.

“Alberto radiates great calm and self-confidence, and that he’s up to the task. And that’s one of the reasons he can ride so strong so late in a major stage race,” explained Mørkøv after today’s great win, where Alberto was a bit behind Nibali and the other favorites after the first time split.

“Alberto didn’t stress at the start, where you could see Nibali taking a lot of risks on the downhill to gain a few seconds. But as soon as it started to go uphill, then Alberto calmly pulled well away from everyone and won decisively in the end.”

In both the live update from feltet and Eurosport coverage, it was questioned whether Alberto was riding strong enough to win. According to Michael Mørkøv, that’s because of the Spaniard’s riding style.

“It doesn’t look like Alberto is riding very fast because he uses the small gear. It actually looks like he’s standing still on the road. But we’ve seen many time how effective his riding style is.”

Partying must wait

Michael Mørkøv himself finished 141st in the 12.7-kilometer time trial, four seconds behind teammate Kaspar Klostergaard and four seconds in front of countryman Alex Rasmussen.

“I rode 90-95% of what I could, because I had to be sure to make the time cut. It’s difficult to know in advance how strong the winner will ride, so the ones of us who ride early have to give it the gas in order to be sure and stay in the race. I rode it at 33:39 minutes, and I just found out that the time limit was 36 minutes, so it was nicely inside the time limit.”

Tonight at dinner, Mørkøv expects a glass of wine from Riis to celebrate Alberto’s victory, but otherwise the focus remains on the rest of the stages, so the party must wait.

“Of course, we’re already focusing on tomorrow’s stage. Then we can hopefully wait until Sunday to celebrate all our success,” Mørkøv concluded.


May 25 - Uneventful stage leaves Alberto saying, “Every day that goes by without crashes or mishaps is happiness”

Saxo Bank-SunGard's Giro squad

Saxo Bank-SunGard's Giro squad (AC press room)

Stage 17, Wednesday, May 25; Feltre – Tirano, 230 km

Alberto Contador, after getting through the Triptych of the Dolomites ordeal and winning the mountain time trial at Nevegal, finished today’s stage without incident and ticked off one more day in the march to Milan. The stage, however, wasn’t easy. “It was a very demanding day, very exhausting. It was very fast from the start, and the escape wasn’t made until kilometer 60, and there was a rider at two minutes in it, so we had keep him from getting too much time. We did a high average speed, and the forces notice,” said Alberto.

“It’s been a day of great fatigue. When the escape was made the team set quickly to work, and then Liquigas and Geox joined in, because Nibali’s and Menchov’s GC positions were in danger. Three thousand vertical meters were gotten over and that will leave a mark on the next few days,” said Alberto, who expected the Giro to be this hard from the beginning. “I was fully prepared because I knew that it’d be incredibly hard—it’s the hardest stage race that I’ve every done due to the route, but I’m happy,” he said, “because we’ve passed another day and every day that goes by without crashes and without mishaps equals happiness, because we’re closer to Milan, but we still have to be cautious because there’s a lot left.”

(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)

RESULTS: Alberto Contador in Stage 17, 29th (2:59 Ulissi). Contador in GC, 1st (68:18:27)

TOP TEN 1 Contador (68:18:27), 2 Scarponi (4:58), 3 Nibali (5:45), 4 Gadret (7:35), 5 Sivtsov (9:12), 6 Rujano (9:18), 7 Nieve (9:22), 8 Menchov (9:38), 9 Kreuziger (9:47), Rodríguez (10:25)



May 23 - Alberto wins again; Riis says, "He was in a league of his own."

Where's Alberto?

Alberto Contador finds a way through the canyon (AS.com)

Stage 16, Tuesday, May 24: Belluno – Nevegal (ITT), 12.7 km

Alberto Contador was the best rider by over half a minute in today's mountain time trial in Stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia.

The 12.7 km cronoescalada from Belluno to Nevegal was one of the dwindling chances for the rivals to close the gap to the maglia rosa. For Vincenzo Nibali and Michele Scarponi, however, it was a fruitless quest.

Nibali's passion and Scarponi's grit made thrilling entertainment, but passion and grit, against Contador, could not be exchanged for seconds at the finish line. The Italians aces lost time, failing to break the pattern of escalating advantage and bonification that Contador set with a late-stage attack in Tropea and has continued throughout victory on Etna and mastery in last weekend's triduum in the Dolomites.

Alberto left the start house intending to win the stage and dedicate it to Xavier Tondo, the Spanish rider from the Movistar Team who died in an accident yesterday.

Xavi's death has devastated the peloton for the second time in this Giro, especially the Spanish riders who knew him best. Xavi was a star, both on the bike and because he was always a bright spot in the cycling world, a winner with a sunny personality and the courage it takes to out a drug ring and publicly denounce strict liability.

Seeking a dedication for Xavi Tondo was extra motivation that helped to balance out two weeks of cumulative fatigue in the race leader. In fact, Alberto looked brilliant from the first pedal stroke.

"I took it steady in the opening kilometers and then found my rhythm. Then I went as fast as I could," Alberto said after the stage. "I knew I was three seconds faster than Nibali and so I was in control but it was a hard climb. This is my first win in pink and like winning in yellow at the Tour de France or at the Vuelta, it's something I'll never forget.”

In the podium ceremony, Contador carried out the protocol solemnly, pointing to the sky in honor of Tondo.


“It was a great and important victory for Alberto and for the team," said Saxo Bank-SunGard boss Bjarne Riis. "He started out without pushing too hard on the first part of the course. We knew that the stage would be won on the final six kilometers of the stage and here, he was in a league of his own. Now, we have to stay focused on the job. The race is not over before we cross the finish line Sunday but this was surely an important step in the direction towards a great overall result."

Vincenzo Nibali said, "I did my best but Contador's got an extra gear. I honestly thought I'd done enough to win it but all I can say to him is chapeau."

"I rode well and felt good. I used the right gear and the right equipment. But when someone is that good, there's not much you can do. I tried to gain a few seconds on the first part, on the descent, and then I paced myself well and kept trying to accelerate again and again. I don't think I could have done any better."

"Alberto is unbeatable for the moment, but I just hope that with some hard work there's a chance that I can close the gap on him in the future."

And according to Michele Scarponi: "I gave it everything in the time trial but I wasn't at my best. I didn't have the legs in the final two kilometres, when I needed to pick up the speed and go hard. But I have to be satisfied with my Giro so far and second place overall. I know Nibali wants to take it from me, but I also know that final mountain stage to Sestriere suits me."

RESULTS: Alberto Contador in Stage 16, 1st (28:55). Alberto Contador in GC: 1st (62:43:37)

TOP TEN: 1 Contador (62:43:37), 2 Scarponi (4:58), 3 Nibali (5:45), 4 Gadret (7:35), 5 Rujano (9:18), 6 Nieve (9:22), 7 Menchov (9:38), 8 Kreuziger (9:47), Rodríguez (10:25), Antón (10:58)



May 23 - Post-stage Q&A after Alberto's second career win in the Giro

AS.com | J.A.E. | “Tondo was a friend and a great cyclist”

This victory was for Xavi Tondo.
Yes, absolutely yes. This victory is dedicated to Tondo. Yesterday I went to bed thinking that I’d like to win this stage so I cold offer it to him. We rode together in plenty of races, and he was a friend and a great rider.

How was the cronoescalada?
In the first five kilometers, I kept close control in order to tackle the hard part full gas. I knew it was going well, but since I wasn’t passing any references, I started to doubt. In the first kilometer of the climb, I wasn’t moving smoothly, but then I got into stride and kept it up until the end. I’m very happy with the result.

The general classification is already totally decided.
The time gap is, frankly, good. My rivals can say that they don’t aspire to first place, although inside I’m sure that they think they still have options. I think they do, too.

Are you worried about any of the remaining stages?
Every day there are mountains and chances to attack. On the descents and on the climbs. The days remaining are demanding, but it doesn’t bother me that Nibali intends to attack me on the descents.

With the latest doping accusations about Lance Armstrong, can people believe in cycling today?
It’s not my place to answer that question. I only know that the Italian roads are full of tifosi in order to follow the Giro from the curb, come rain or shine.


May 23 - "This one's for you, Tondo!"

Enrique Bernaola/MARCA: "Despite the victory, Contador knew that it was not the day for celebrating anything, after the tragic death of Tondo. That’s why he attended the podium to receive his prize and the first thing he did was point to the sky to dedicate the win to his friend. Little did it matter then that his second Giro might be nearer every time.

"Today was not Contador’s day, it was a day for paying homage to an excellent rider who has left us, but whom we will never forget. 'This one’s for you, Tondo!'"


May 22 - Alberto's advantage grows, Nibali loses time in spite of thrilling descent, Spain gets 5th win of this Giro

High 5,5,5,5,5,5...

Alberto Contador participates in the applause at the Stage 15 finish (Photo: rcs)

Alberto Contador finished Stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia in 3rd place, adding to his margin over his direct rivals in time gaps plus 8" of bonification. Mikel Nieve of Euskaltel won the stage.

This longest day of the 2011 edition, the queen stage, took nearly seven and a half hours, finishing at the top of Gardeccia, the last of the day's five mountains. Stage 15 also featured the Cima Coppi - the tour's highest point in altitude - the Passo Giau.

More soon

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 15, 3rd (1:51 Nieve—7:27:14) Contador in GC, 1st (62:14:42)

STAGE 15 TOP TEN: 1 Nieve (7:27:14), 2 Garzelli (1:41), 3 Contador 1:51, 4 Scarponi (1:57), 5 Gadret (2:28), 6 Rujano (2:35), 7 Nibali (3:34), 8 Rodríguez (3:34), 9 Kreuziger (4:01), 10 Kruijswijk (4:13)

GC TOP TEN:1 Contador (62:14:42), 2 Scarponi (4:20), 3 Nibali (5:11), 4 Gadret (6:08), 5 Nieve (7:03), 6 Rujano (8:39), 7 Menchov (8:46), 8 Kreuziger (8:58), Rodríguez (9:20), 10 Arroyo (9:30)


May 21 - Alberto survives unpredictable stage and still adds to his GC cushion. He respects Vincenzo Nibali as his most direct rival.

Alberto gets a few more seconds on Zoncolan

Alberto claims a few more seconds as the rains begins to pour (Luk Beines/AFP/Getty Images)

Stage 14, Saturday, May 21: Lienz – Monte Zoncolan, 210 km

MARCA - Alberto Contador, leader of the Giro d’Italia and second to his countryman Igor Anton this Saturday in Stage 14, explained that, instead of attacking as he did on Friday, he had “concentrated on the general.”

“I finished very tired because we climbed at a quite a strong pace. Today I didn’t attack. I concentrated on the general classification and once again managed to gain a few seconds. It wasn’t much, but everything counts toward winning the final maglia rosa,” said Alberto Contador.

Contador had words of praise for Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali, who reached the finsih line in third. “In the final kilometer, Nibali was very strong. I jumped, but he kept close tabs on me and caught back up, so I had to push again in order to get those few valuable seconds,” he indicated.

“I see Nibalia as very strong and I respect him as the most direct rival for the general,” stressed Contador.

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 14, 2nd (0:33 Igor Antón—5:04:26) Contador in GC, 1st (54:45:45)

TOP TEN: 1 Contador (54:45:45), 2 Nibali (3:20), 3 Antón (3:21), 4 Scarponi (4:06), 5 Gadret (5:23), 6 6 Sivtsov (5:37), 7 Menchov (6:06), 8 Dupont (6:12), Kreuziger (6:40), Arroyo (6:43)

Report to come


May 21 - Nightmare portion of Stage 14 sterreto and bloodcurdling descent has been eliminated

Alternate route for Stage 14

The organizers have listened to concerned teams and changed the Stage 14 route

The president of the Giro d'Italia jury has cancelled the ascent and descent of the Monte Crostis, the controversial penultimate climb of today's Stage 14.

The decision was made after the directors of several teams pressured the organization to eliminate the section of route featuring dirt road and the perilous descent that had recently been equipped with safety nets and Formula 1 mattresses.

An alternate route has been devised which bypasses the Crostis and cuts the stage from 210 to 190 kilometers.

Giro boss Angelo Zomegnan has advised fans who were planning to be present on the Crostis to move to the Zoncolan.


May 20 - The Italian Orienteering Federation shot this video of the Crostis descent from a bike-cam to provide a learning and safety tool for the Giro peloton. It is bone-chilling.


May 20 - Contador storms Grossglockner peak, divides spoils with Rujano

Contador extends lead on Grossglockner, Rujano takes win

Rujano accepts a stage win from Contador, who extends his lead on main rivals (Luk Beines/AFP/Getty Images)

“I’m fine, but my legs hurt like everybody else’s”

Alberto Contador consolidated his leadership of the Giro d’Italia today with a new exhibition on Austrian soil. Even though he chose to share this podium with Rujano, who won the stage, Saxo Bank-SunGard’s leader pulled on not only the maglia rosa, but also the red points jersey and the green one for king of the mountains—everything but the white jersey for Best Young Rider. In short, Alberto Contador now possesses every jersey in the Giro d’Italia that a rider of 28 is eligible to earn.

Contador said that on today’s climb he “really hammered, but ultimately the race was really moving and since I couldn’t escape all the attacks, I went away with Rujano. Then I saw that Nibali was dropped, and then Scarponi. At that moment I saw everything clearly,” he explained. “Today was an important day for trying to take time in the general and, even though I really suffered, it was worth it.”

Alberto also said that the Giro is not over. “Yes, I’ve grabbed a nice advantage to take into the next stages, but there’s still a lot left. The Zoncolan, the Crostis? Now I’d rather think about rest as soon as possible at the hotel. Tomorrow’s another day.” Furthermore, he said that he didn’t have a set plan. “There wasn’t any plan, but a good race situation presented itself, so it happened something like it did on Etna. Rujano was strong and I decided to go with him to get the maximum amount of time.”

(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)

Alberto Contador simply rode away from his direct rivals this afternoon on the Grossglockner, doubling his lead on Nibali and Scarponi without resorting to his customary lightning-quick attack style. The only man who could answer him was Venezuelan Jose Rujano, who worked with Alberto in the final kilometers and was rewarded with a stage win.

”What a master piece," said Saxo Bank-SunGard commander-in-chief Bjarne Riis. "We were in control throughout the whole stage and according to the original plan, Alberto only had to keep up with his opponents, but as they showed weaknesses I asked him to launch two attacks without going too deep and in the second punch, only Rujano was able to compete and we're very content with that.

"The lead to Nibali is increased significantly and we got more from the stage than we had expected beforehand. That doesn't mean that the race is won. There are several high mountain stages to come and we all know how you can lose minutes on a bad day in the mountains, so we need to stay focused on the job."


RESULTS: Contador in Stage 13, 2nd (s.t. Rujano—4:45:54). Contador in the GC, 1st (49:40:58)

TOP TEN: 1 Contador (49:40:58), 2 Nibali (3:09), 3 Scarponi (3:16), 4 Arroyo (3:25), 5 Kreuziger (3:29), 6 Sivtsov (3:53), 7 Antón (4:02), 8 Gadret (4:06), 9 Carrara (4:35), 10 Dupont (4:38)


May 20 - Drive the last 27 kilometers of today's stage up Europe's 2nd-highest mountain


May 19 - Alberto Contador and Michele Scarponi were roommates at Liberty Seguros, now they're rivals for the Giro title. Does Scarponi know Contador well enough to find his Achilles heel?

“The Italian alliance is a myth”

DEIA | Alain Laiseka - Castelfidardo. “I’m not giving up,” says Michele Scarponi (Jesi, Italy, 1979) when they suggest a parallel time and turn him into Claudio Chiappucci Contador and Scarponi on the 2011 Volta a Catalunya podium in the ‘90’s, the willing scourge of Miguel Indurain, in the context of a Giro d’Italia which now, since Sunday, looks to Alberto Contador as “grand patron”.

“If we're going to give up after the first exchange, why continue to Milan?” wonders the Italian, who was roommates with Contador in his first team training camp with Liberty Seguros, for whom he rode for two years.

“In 2005, he was considered a huge talent on the team,” he recalls before taking the start in Tortoreto Lido, beside the calm, turquoise Adriatic, in the Apennines’ stage.

The Apennines, Castelfidardo, your home.
I live near Castelfidardo, tricky ground. Here I became a cyclist. And a climber, because you can’t be anything else. There aren’t any difficult climbs, but neither is there one meter of flats. It’s similar to Basque Country. I still wonder why I became a cyclist. It was my father’s fault, who gave me a racing bike at my first communion. I started to use it and do to this day.

You rode two years at Liberty Seguros and your time on that squad coincided with Contador’s, do you remember that Alberto?
Of course I remember, because at the first team training camp with Liberty, I got to the hotel and they put the two of us in the same room. It was six years ago, in 2005. I didn’t have occasion to know Alberto well because we hardly ever raced together, but I remember that he was already considered a huge talent then. Obviously, maybe few, or nobody, could’ve imagined that he would come as far as he has, but everybody in Spain, on the team, Manolo himself, knew that this kid had something. He had enormous potential, and now he’s the best in the world by a long shot. Nobody could’ve foreseen that.

It was the Liberty of Beloki, Galdeano, David Etxebarria, Marino…
Ah! Wonderful Marino. I did a lot of races with him as director. He was a very nice man. All the riders were happy when they rode with him because he was a great director and a great person. In Italy, he’s beloved. People remember him with joy. Marino has been a character that has left an enormous footprint on cycling, many good things, and people recognize it.

Your experience in the bosom of the Spanish peloton lasted two seasons and you never really took off. What happened?
I went to Spain, to a tremendous team, to ride two years. Everything was fine. The atmosphere was good, the relationships unbeatable, but except for a good Vuelta in 2005, I didn’t get good results. I don’t know why. I trained well, made an effort… Maybe I was too young to be on a such a great team. I dreamt about being a good professional and maybe now I am thanks to those two bad years. The experience with Manolo was good. He was a strong man, tough, who created a special bond with the riders. I had a high regard for him before and I continue to regard him highly now.

In your cycling career you’ve experienced good and bad times, really bad. Have the crises make you tougher?
In cycling, as in life, there are happy moments, when everything’s going well, and others not so happy. When a cyclist manages to get past a difficult time, he feels a different strength inside, a greater courage than he had before. I’d say that the pain makes you tougher for facing difficult times which before would’ve sunk you.

Is that the case with Contador?
For example. But there are many.

Do you learn from your mistakes?

Were you wrong to seek Contador’s wheel last Sunday?
No, no, I don’t think so.

But you blew up.
But I am in the Giro d’Italia to try to win. That’s how it is in my head. The truth may be that Alberto Contador is the strongest in the world and that I’m only the leader of Lampre-ISD. Inside of me, I think that I was right to try to follow the strongest rider. I lost his wheel, okay, but then neither did I lose much with respect to the other leaders. I was able to verify that Alberto is the most powerful in this Giro, but I don’t regret having followed him.

Can you say that if you find yourself in the same situation again you’ll repeat what you did then?
Sure, I follow him and try to stop him.

They say that you are to Contador what Claudio Chiappucci was to Miguel Indurain.
Maybe. Contador is stronger, like Miguel was, but if we're going to give up after the first exchange, why do we keep riding until Milan? At least I’m going to fight until Milan in order to try to change the direction of this Giro. I’m not giving up.

Could an Italian alliance be the biggest problem in Contador’s way?
No Italian alliance exists. It’s a myth. It never existed and never will exist. Each person rides for his team. And does it his own way. Some people are more calculated and others are more instinctive, like I am.

Do they take Igor Antón into account?
Of course, sure. He’s a really great climber and in this Giro there are many, many climbs. I’ve raced with him, but never at a time when he or I were in great shape. I saw him in last year’s Vuelta. He was really strong. If he hadn’t crashed, he could’ve won the Vuelta. If his form improves like I think it is improving, he’s going to compete for a really great Giro.

Is he a rival for the podium?
I see him on it if I’m not. There are only three places, and we don’t all fit.


May 19 - On the eve of a daunting weekend in the Dolomites, the peloton spends a leisurely day along the beach

Easy days are actually not so easy

Contador ready to rest after a relatively easy day (Luk Beines/AFP/Getty Images)

“The hardest stage will be the one at Gardeccia”

Alberto Contador skirted disaster today as the peloton crashed in the Stage 12 finale, and he is mentally prepared to tackle the upcoming mountain stages, the heart of Giro d’Italia 2011. Saxo Bank-SunGard’s leader says that, of all the stages yet to come, “the hardest will be the one at Gardeccia, due to the accumulated effort of the previous days plus this stage itself—the three will be truly difficult.”

Alberto also commented on what awaits them on the difficult Crostis. “I know it because I saw it after La Flêche Wallonne with two of my teammates. It’s a very demanding climb, with seven or eight extremely steep kilometers, harder than Etna. It’ll be a tough day, where time differences will be made and people will see who’s weak.”

Contador rejected the idea that the Giro has already been decided. “Right now people think of me, but there are a lot of riders with options. One minute and twenty seconds is nothing considering what’s left of the race. Anything could still happen.”

(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)

Today's flat stage from Castelfidardo to Ravenna was a calm ride along the Adriatic coast. For over 180 kilometers, the road presented no challenges, but the last kilometer in Ravenna included several sharp left-handers that were asking for trouble. Sure enough, an HTC overcooked an angle at about 1,000 meters to go, causing some riders to hit the pavement and delaying others in the subsequent bottleneck.

The big sprinters were in front of the crash and continued full speed ahead to the line. The peloton split, but the 3-kilometer rule made it a no-harm-no-foul situation.

Contador and his teammates bypassed the trouble on the left side of the road, finishing same time as the sprint winner, Mark Cavendish.

“Today was a very calm day, the Giro’s last flat day," said Alberto after the stage. "As of tomorrow starts a continuous battering and hell. The three days are difficult, especially the last day because many vertical kilometers will be tackled. But both tomorrow’s stage in Austria and the Zoncolan stage, possibly with the Crosits, are going to have huge importance in the general classification. About my rivals, everything is still the same today.”

Philippe Maduit, Alberto's DS, commented: “We were better off without the scary crash on the closing kilometer today, but none of our boys were involved directly in the crash and as far as I know no one was severely hurt. Apart from that, the stage went like we wanted it to. A breakaway went away and naturally we got to work in the front but the sprinter teams took over on the final part. Tomorrow's there'a another battle among the overall favorites and Alberto has to focus on following along."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 12, 22nd (s.t. Cavendish—4:17:25). Contador in GC, 1st (44:55:16)

TOP TEN: 1 Contador (44:55:16), 2 Sivtsov (0:59), 3 Nibali (1:21), 4 Le Mevel (1:28), 5 Scarponi (1:28), 6 Arroyo (1:37), 7 Kreuziger (1:41), 8 Serpa (1:47), 9 Cataldo (2:21), 10 Carrara (2:21)



May 18 - Contador emphasizes value of rest, says “This Giro could possibly be won in the hotel”

Moment of silence on Wouter's funeral day

The Giro d'Italia observed a moment of silence at the start line as Wouter Weylandts was laid to rest in Belgium (Luk Beines/AFP/Getty Images)

Stage 11, Wednesday, May 18: Tortoreto Lido – Castefidardo, 142 km

Alberto Contador today clarified the misunderstanding about his absence yesterday in the press room, after having spoken with the media at the finish line. The leader of Saxo Bank-SunGard explained that, in his opinion, “this Giro could possible be won in the hotel,” referring to the importance of rest and recovery after each stage.

“Yesterday I didn’t come to the press conference because it was a normal day when there wasn’t anything interesting to say and when the main player was somebody else—Cavendish,” said Contador. “The press conference ended really late and if someone felt offended, I’m sorry, but it wasn’t my intent. My intent was only to rest, because I think that I’m a rider who’s available to the press at all times.”

About today’s stage, he said that it was as expected, “a tough stage, where everybody wanted to get in the break. Finally one was made that we were happy with, with Le Mevel, who wanted to have the maglia rosa and so eliminate our workload, but other teams have had to go ahead being leader.”

Alberto, however, made it clear that he also likes having the jersey. “I like being leader. Wearing the jersey is something to be proud of, but if you want to be the leader on the final day, you have to recover. Thinking in purely practical terms, it’s better not to have it now.”

He also explained why he fought for a victory on Etna which could be said to be premature. “It was a bit of an ad-lib and had to do with how the race was going. I saw opportunities to take advantage of, my legs were responding well and I’ll always remember getting a victory like Sunday’s on Etna. Besides, it’s always good to go in front.”

Finally, Alberto commented on the upcoming climb of the Crostis, with the descent that has been forecast as very complicated. “I think that a big effort has been made for safety, a good part of the descent has been paved and the rest has been compacted, but I also ask to what extent all that’s necessary. It will be a little chaotic, the cars won’t be able to descend and, in a nutshell, there are many uncertainties. If the requirements are satisfied, there’s no major problem. But if they’re not, then they must not do things like this.”

(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)

Stage 11, from Tortoreto Lido to Caselfidardo was only 142 kilometers long, but the sawtooth profile looked like a typical stage in Basque Country, with a relentless and exhausting series of undulations.

DS Philippe Maduit said, “It was a terribly tough stage which will make its mark on a lot of riders the next few days but our boys did an amazingly wise job controlling the gap and handing over the responsibility to other teams on the latter part of the stage. In the finale, Alberto was very cool and stayed in the front without making too much of an effort. Tomorrow, I expect another flat stage that allows the sprinters teams to glow in the front of the bunch.”

Saxo Bank-SunGard gregario, Jesús Hernández, told Diario Vasco, “Our intention was to give up the maglia rosa to a rider who wasn’t dangerous in the GC. The escape that formed was good for our interests but the stage was attractive for a lot teams, so they pulled it back. The only thing we’re worried about is having the maglia rosa in Milan. Alberto Contador is very confident in his forces and we’ve gotten through a complicated day, so we’re all happy.” (Diario Vasco)

RESULTS: Results: Contador in Stage 11, 5th (s.t. Gadret—3:33:11). Contador in the GC, 1st (40:37:51)
TOP TEN: 1 Contador (40:37:51), 2 Sivtsov (0:59), 3 Nibali (1:21), 4 Le Mevel (1:28), 5 Scarponi (1:28), 6 Arroyo (1:37), 7 Kreuziger (1:41), 8 Serpa (1:47), 9 Cataldo (2:21), 10 Carrara (2:21)



May 17 - Contador guards recovery time against demands of protocol

94th Giro d'Italia, Stage 10

The maglia rosa was a bright spot under dull skies today (Luk Beines/AFP/Getty Images)

Alberto Contador banked his first race day as leader of the Giro today in Stage 10, as well as keeping hold of the maglia rosa for tomorrow, something that didn’t cost Saxo Bank-SunGard too much wear and tear. As Alberto said, “Our mission was not to work to defend the jersey on a day like today. An escape went out that worked to our advantage, with two riders at an hour back and another at 40 minutes, and HTC worked because it was a good opportunity for them.”

Alberto acknowledged that having the jersey “is tiring, that’s for sure. It’s always good to wear it, but a lot of time is lost on the podium and with everything else. I figure that every day equals an hour or an hour and a half less rest time, and that, after ten days of racing, is a lot of time. I’m really glad to be wearing it, but the most important thing is to have it on the 29th in Milan.”

To a question about the statements of Nibali and Scarponi after his attack on Etna, Contador answered that he does not see them as greatly affected. “In the end, Etna was a day and there’s still a lot of Giro left,” he said, indicating that he doesn’t believe his rivals have lost hope.

Alberto said that today’s stage “looked a bit iffy at the start, but there was a headwind and that made things easier.” Tomorrow, nevertheless, things will be different. “Tomorrow it’ll be like riding a classic, it’ll be a very, very difficult stage and there’ll be options for an escape to succeed. We’ll have to keep close watch on the GC rivals.”

(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)

Termoli was grey at the start of this short stage, but race leader Contador had grown more colorful than ever by accessorizing his kit with a pink helmet and sunglasses, although he's sticking with black shorts.

The break of the day was established at Km 2 by Fumiyuki Beppu and Pierre Cazaux, who were joined by Yuriy Krivtsov. Alberto said, "The escape formed quickly, and for me and my team it worked to our advantage. We knew that Columbia (HTC) would work to bring it back. Then at just under 20 kilometers we were careful, and positioned ourselves in front."

The escape group was reeled in before the last 10 km and - after a dramatic but fruitless display by David Millar - Cavendish, Petacchi and Ventoso disputed the sprint. Victory: Cavendish.

Contador's teammates looked after him well, even riding on point at times, not to work, but to stay out of danger

According to DS Philippe Maduit: “It was a day that went pretty much as we expected. Naturally, we had to spend some energy keeping Alberto in the front of the pack but if you want to win overall and if this is what it takes, we will do it. Tomorrow's stage will be harder to control as the hilly terrain kind of invites everyone to elope. Whether we decide to hold on to the jersey or not, we will see tomorrow.”

After the stage, Alberto tried to skip the press conference in order to conserve precious recovery time. He was fined 1,000 CHF by the race jury. His press man said, "It's too much. He can't do it every day if he has it for two more weeks. Plus, they want him to answer five questions to every TV camera and in different languages."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 10, 29th (s.t. Cavendish—4:00:49). Contador in GC, 1st (37:04:0)
TOP TEN: 1 Contador (37:04:40), 2 Sivtsov (0:59), 3 Le Mevel (1:19), 4 Nibali (1:21), 5 Scarponi (1:28), 6 Arroyo (1:37), 7 Kreuzger (1:41), 8 Serpa (1:47), 9 Cataldo (2:21), 10 Carrara (2:21)


May 16 - Keeping the maglia rosa during the upcoming stages is not a worry for Alberto, provided he winds up with it on May 29, in Milan


May 16 - ...about Etna

"I wanted to attack even sooner, at just shy of eight kilometers. I told Jesus – Hernandez – and he said to me, ‘No, man, wait, wait!’ so that’s why I held off. It was risky because of the wind, but I profitted and I’m ready and willing to take on whatever the Giro has left. But I’m not interested in defending the maglia rosa, and not obsessing over it. The objective is to be leader on the 29th in Milan.” (La Razon)


May 16 - Yes to the Monte Crostis after a meeting with the riders

As expected, this Saturdays passage of the Monte Crostis will remain in the Giro’s program for Stage 14 to Monte Zoncolan. The final part of the Crostis ascent—the false flat at the top—includes sterrato, an unpaved section. The descent has been paved recently.

Several riders, among them race leader, Alberto Contador, met with Giro organizers and the technical jury last night and were shown a video with images of the area and the safety measures that have been adopted, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

After climbing Mount Etna, the Giro caravan transferred to Termoli, the point of departure for tomorrow’s stage. All the riders had dinner together, before making their way to the Fontanarossa airport, in a restaurant in the center of Catania.

It was an opportunity to discuss the safety measures on the descent of the Crostis, and Contador, Nibali, Millar, Garzelli and Cioni sat down with the president of the jury, Thierry Diederen, and Mauro Vegni, who presented a video of the descent and the safety measures that have been put in place, including nets in the most dangerous zones.

The riders didn’t officially come out in favor of the changes, although the meeting, just under an hour, was positive on the whole, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. “The descent of the Crostis is secure and it will remain in the Giro program,” concluded Angelo Zomegnan, the race director.


May 16 - Contador sleeps in, then trains indoors and meets the press

94th Giro d'Italia EFE - Alberto Contador, who became leader of the 2011 Giro d’Italia after a solo win at the summit of Mount Etna (Sicily) yesterday, has said today that the race “has just begun” and that he’s “not interested in wearing the maglia rosa.”

“The Giro has only just begun. The Etna stage was first contact with the mountains but the interesting stages, and the ones that I like most, they’re yet to come,” said Contador to EFE, on the first rest day of the Italian stage race.

Alberto Contador enjoyed the rest day today in Vasto Marina (Chieti), after a long transfer by road and air from Catania to Pescara, where the Giro peloton arrived at the airport on the verge of midnight.

From the Pescara airport, each team went to their respective bases. “Yesterday the stage was first contact with the mountains, and it’s true that I profitted and everything went well. I don’t know what might happen from now on, but I’m ready and willing to tackle whatever is left in the Giro,” commented Contador.

“No, I’m not interested at all in wearing the maglia rosa, it’s something that I’m not obsessed with. The goal is to be leader on the 29th of May, in Milan,” he said. Before the high mountains, the peloton will experience some transitional stages that could turn out to be dangerous. “The first days you have to pay very close attention, because we’re going to go along the coast and the wind could be very dangerous,” he said.

“In the rest of the stages, the high mountain ones, I’m sure that there’s going to be a lot of action and the teams are going to plan their strategies. The leaders are going to try to attack from a distance at the beginning of the climbs and the stages will be really jittery. The bad weather forecast for those days, besides, could be an added danger,” added the current leader of the Giro.

Contador spent this morning resting, getting up late, after 10:30. The Saxo Bank team couldn’t go out to train on the road due to rain and the inclement weather on the Adriatic coast. In the afternoon, the Spanish rider planned to do a session on the rollers in the facility housed at the team’s hotel.


May 15 - Alberto Contador gets his first Giro stage win with a brilliant solo finish on the summit of volcano

First stage win in the Giro!

Alberto uncorks the bubbly dressed in the maglia rosa (AC press room)

Stage 9, Sunday, May 15: Messina – Etna, 169 km

“I’m enormously happy with this result”

Alberto Contador won a victory today at the top of Mount Etna that was, for him, very meaningful. Not only was it his first stage win in the Giro d’Italia, after having triumphed in 2008 without winning a stage, but it also showed that yesterday’s attack in Tropea was no fluke, plus it brought him the maglia rosa, which conjures up very good memories.

“I’m enormously happy with this result. I had my doubts about attacking from so far out, even though we had planned it like that, because between eight and five kilometers was the hardest part. I decided to try, and I saw that the only person following me was Scarponi, but that he also buckled. I took heart and kept on to the finish line,” said the leader of Saxo Bank-SunGard, who now also leads the race.

Alberto, in spite of the appreciable differences that he put between himself and his direct rivals, was cautious in his analysis of the result. “The race has just begun,” he said. “The Giro is incredibly hard and anything can still happen.”

Contador didn’t want to dedicate this victory to any one person, but rather “to everyone who has supported me. The fans have been incredible all this time, and they’re the ones that have given me strength to keep training as hard as possible. I also dedicate it to my family, who have experienced all this with me at close quarters, and to the team, whose behavior to me couldn’t be better, as well as the sponsors, Saxo Bank and SunGard.”

Alberto said that there’s no way “it was my plan to get the maglia rosa today. The most important thing was to get some time between me and the rest of the riders, so the day after tomorrow anything could happen with this maglia rosa.”

(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room

Report soon!


May 14 - Contador and Oscar Gatto out-do the power sprinters

Stage 8 sneak attack by Contador

Contador's sneak attack nets bonus but doesn's spoil the day for Gatto (Luk Beines/AFP/Getty Images)

Stage 8, Saturday, May 14: Sapri – Tropea, 217 km

Alberto Contador placed second in today’s stage of the Giro d’Italia, adding 12 seconds of bonification to the five seconds he gained on his direct rivals in the peloton. He now moves to fifth in the general classification. The maneuver surprised everyone, since no one expected to see the leader of Saxo Bank-SunGard go on the attack so soon. “It was a difficult and dangerous finish,” said Alberto, “but I took a few seconds and a little bonification, so I’m really glad.”

Alberto said that his team deserved the credit for his effectiveness today. “I have to be thankful for the fantastic job done by my team, who kept me in the front until the last moment, and thanks to them, I was able to take a few seconds. It’s true that yesterday Scarponi looked really strong, but today I did what I could.” Asked if his aggressive riding today had been in response to commentary in La Gazzetta dello Sport that suggested he had shown weakness in yesterday’s sprint, something that he had not commented on earlier, he said, “No, no, I didn’t know anything about that. Now I realize—it’s not a kind of answer. I didn’t speak yesterday because we had a long way to go to get to the hotel, and we arrived very late.”

About the Etna stage tomorrow, he said that it’s going to be “one that fires people up, because there are especially motivated riders, like Nibali, who’s arriving on home turf, and Scarponi, who’s hungry for it. Tomorrow the battle will begin.”

About tomorrow’s tactics, he said that now “I’m can allow myself to watch the actions of all the other riders, but when I think my moment has come, I’m going to take advantage of it.” He also did not count out an attack. “You never know what you’re going to do in a race, but anything can happen,” he concluded.

(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)

Today’s transitional stage hugged the Calabrian coast in a marathon ride that nearly reached the toe of Italy’s boot. On paper a sprinter stage, the aces spent the day surrounded by their teams, piano, and conserving strength for two climbs up Mount Etna tomorrow.

94th Giro d'Italia All eyes were on Petacchi and Cavendish to explode out of the late-stage toboggan ride into Tropea and duel on the slight rise to the finish, but instead Oscar Gatto (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) charged at 1,700 meters from the line. Gatto shined, opening a promising-looking gap that threatened to rob the sprinters. Was Gatto catchable?

500 meters later—to the astonishment of everyone and the delight of many—Contador attacked. He rode smoothly away from the peloton, poised but determined, not hunting Gatto and victory, but out to capture a few seconds and the 12” bonification that goes with 2nd place. To shouts and applause from the worldwide pueblo de Contador, at the roadside and in front of their screens at home, Alberto outpaced all his direct rivals to the line, yet stayed a gentlemanly distance behind Gatto as the Italian posted up for victory.

The surprise and delight of fans was reflected in Saxo Bank-SunGard’s reaction to the move. Bjarne Riis commented, "It was great watching him go. It's obviously dangerous to let him out of sight and he knew that no one was on his wheel so naturally, he took advantage of that.”

“We knew that the finish was a bit tricky so it was important that we positioned Alberto in the very front of the pack before going in on the uphill finish,” said director Philippe Maduit. “And the guys succeeded. On top of this, Alberto saw the opportunity and was feeling strong enough to take it and gain seconds on his nearest rivals in the overall GC. Tomorrow, there will be a huge battle on Etna and as you can see, we're ready."

Alberto’s mountain super-gregario, Dani Navarro: “Alberto Contador has been tremedous. He has a lot of class, he took off and got second place. His attack surprised me, because he made no comment whatsoever. The Giro’s turning out to be edgy, since every day has some new incentive.”

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 8, 2nd (s.t. Gatto). Contador in GC, 5th (0:13 Weening)
TOP TEN: 1 Weeining (28:09:49), 2 Sivtsov (0:02), 3 Pinotti (0:02), 4 Le Mevel 0:05), 5 Contador (0:13), 6 Scarponi (0:14), 7 Lastras (0:22), 8 Nibali (0:24), 9 Kruijswijk (0:28), Serpa (0:33)


94th Giro d'Italia monsters

Reports, results, photos and press covering Alberto Contador's epic battle for the Giro's Golden Spiral



May 14 - Friends and rivals: What are they saying?

Bjarne Riis: “Tomorrow, we will just be following the rhythm of the race. We don't have the leader's jersey so we don’t have to take the responsibility in the front of the race but we will try to answer given attacks from the rivals."

Fran Ventoso: “At the end there was a hill that we hadn’t seen as important as it really was, but “Purito” told me that we did it in 2005 when Bettini won. The important thing today, more than looking for a victory for myself, was that David Arroyo didn’t lose time. In the end, the attacks did me a lot of damage and it was impossible to make a play for the stage.”

Joaquím “Purito” Rodríguez: “I’m happy for having gotten through a very complicated week. The only error that I could point out is the team time trial on the first day, but the rest of the stages we’ve passed with high marks. The good part starts as of tomorrow and some important conclusions will be drawn. I don’t think that Etna decides anything but there’ll be significant details and we’ll see how each person does.”

Vincenzo Nibali: “For me, the Etna stage is very special because I’ll be coming home, my family will be there, my friends, my followers. I hope to be at my peak and to offer them the best of myself. Without doubt, Contador and Scarponi are the rivals to mark, but pay attention, because they could get farther away.”

Alberto Contador Velasco

Alberto Contador Velasco after Stage 8, 94th Giro d'Italia


94th Giro d'Italia on paper

La Corsa Rosa 2011

A close-up of la corsa rosa's route, with links back to the official Giro site and lots of supporting information you won't find anywhere else

Read about Stromboli! GO TO GIRO MAPS AND PROFILES


May 13 - No GC shake-up, Contador looks forward to Etna

Contador plays peek-a-boo in favorites' group

Alberto lurks behind Jesús in the group of aces (Luca Bettini/AFP)

Stage 7, May 13: Maddaloni–Montevergine di Mercogliano, 110 km

Alberto Contador finished Stage 7, the Giro’s first mountain stage, with the favorites’ group, arriving in ninth place. Just as the Saxo Bank-SunGard leader expected, Montevergine didn’t open up big differences in the general classification. “We we really stayed on our toes at the end, because we knew that it wasn’t a very demanding finish.”

“The race was very fast,” he continued, “because they wanted to catch the escape and it was fought out in a sprint. I don’t know if the escape succeeded in the end,” he said just after crossing the line. But the most important thing for Alberto has been that “I finished without problems and now all I’m thinking about is resting for tomorrow’s stage.”

Alberto said confidently that he felt very well in the first mountain stage. “I felt quite good and it’s simply one more race day,” he said before going on to talk about Sunday’s stage on Mount Etna, where he expects a much bigger showdown. “It will certainly be more decisive than today. On Etna, time differences will indeed leave a mark.”

(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)

The race worked its way farther south along the pennisula today, marching closer to Sunday's anticipated fight on the slopes of Mount Etna. The weather was warm, and riders pedaled with jerseys unzipped.

Alberto Contador was often seen riding in the protection of his team, just off the front of the peloton.

94th Giro d'Italia Although the pace was fast, a large pack stayed together until the final kilometers. The escape of the day was a five-man group, but as it turned out, they were outshone by rookie Bart De Clercq of Omega Pharma-Lotto.

Many riders attempted attacks as the kilometers ticked by, but it was De Clercq who was destined for the Giro history books.

The neo-pro surprised everyone by holding on and squeaking out his first grand tour victory in front of a group of aces who were advancing like a wolfpack. Scarponi, Nibali, Rodriguez, Kreuziger, Garzelli, Contador and others hunted him down and nearly had him by the neck at the moment he crossed the line.

Thanks to Scarponi - looking for the win, and the others - watching Scarponi and scrapping for the bonus seconds - the stage ended in a spectacular scramble. De Clercq won, Scarponi had to settle for 12 seconds of bonification and 2nd, and the GC among overall favorites changed hardly at all.

”Today, I witnessed great teamwork from our boys," said Saxo Bank-SunGard director Philippe Maduit after the stage. "The main goal was to serve and protect Alberto throughout the stage and put him in a great spot for the last climb and they managed perfectly. Jesús and Dani followed him closely to the very top. Tomorrow's stage is rather flat and it will be an opportunity for the sprinters to make their mark on the race flat stage."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 7, 9th (s.t. De Clercq-2:54:47). Contador in GC, 9th (0:30 Weening-23:09:59)

TOP TEN: 1 Weening, (23:09:59), 2 Svitsov (0:02), 3 Pinotti (0:02), 4 Le Mevel (0:05), 5 Scarponi (0:14), 6 Lastras (0:22), 7 Nibali (0:24), 8 Kurijswijk (0:28), 9 Alberto Contador (0:30), 10 Serpa (0:33)



May 13

Alberto Contador: “I’ve been eager for this stage with summit finish to arrive after some difficult days and a lot of tension. You have to watch for the action in each one, but in the decisive moments, who’s doing well and who isn’t will show. It’ll be a first observation of the favorites.”

Igor Antón: “I’m still not 100 percent, but I don’t lack much either. In the first stage of ‘sterrato’ I finished with the main group and that’s important. I lack a tiny bit, which I hope to get day by day. Tomorrow I’ll see just where I am. I don’t know if I’ll win, because I still lack a bit, but I want to do well.”


May 12 - Contador looks for non-stop action tomorrow

Morning in Stage 6 with Jesús, Alberto and Dani

Jesús, Alberto and Dani say good morning to Orvieto (AC press room)

Stage 6, Thursday, May 12: Orvieto – Fiuggi, 216 km

Alberto Contador finished Stage 6 today without incident, the final stage before the arrival of the mountains, which should begin to show the state of all the favorites. “It’s a short stage and it’ll be very tense. There’ll be action from the beginning and it’s not going to stop, not even when the escape is made,” said Alberto. Tomorrow will show who’s doing well, but mainly, all the ones who are not.”

Contador is not familiar with this climb, although he is informed. “I think that it’s not terribly demanding. At the end, you’ll be able to see a few people falter, because it’s already the seventh day of the race—we’ve had very long stages and high temperatures, and that all takes a toll on the body.”

For Alberto, nevertheless, “the Etna stage” will be significant, “because it’s a more demanding climb than tomorrow’s and it’ll be more important in the general classification.”

(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)

Stage 6 of the Giro d'Italia covered a roller coaster course across mid-Italy, passing not far from Rome. It ended in a bunch sprint, with Francisco Ventoso prevailing over Alessandro Petacchi, who simply stopped pedaling just before the line.

Approximately half of the peloton finished in the same time as Ventoso, including all riders with serious options on the overall victory. Di Luca and Scarponi were especially on the ball, arriving at 4th and 6th, surely hoping for - but failing to nab - bonifications that might come in handy later. The GC top ten remained unchanged.

According to Saxo director Maduit, ”The stage went just the way we wanted it to and Alberto was safely positioned in the front group before the climb and was followed by teammates, Jesús Hernandez and Volodymir. Everyone's feeling well and the riders are in perfect condition. Tomorrow's stage is very short but the final uphill finish will surely take its toll on the peloton and we're positive that Alberto is ready for any battle that should occur."

Alberto's teammate Michael Mørkøv offered some perspective on what's to come tomorrow: ”I'm pretty tired after a tough start of the race but it's like this for all of us and I only hope to be strong enough to help Alberto to a great result. He’s looking very sharp and I'm looking forward to seeing him and Jesús unfold on tomorrow's stage. The stage might actually cause some of the heavy riders problems as they might not be able to reach the finish line within the time limit. My job is to get past the first climb with the bunch and help Alberto to the foot of the final climb before I find my own rhythm.”

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 6, 32nd (s.t. Ventoso-5:15:39). Contador in GC, 9th (0:33 Weening-20:15:12)

TOP TEN: 1 Weening (14:59:33), 2 Pinotti (0:02), 3 Sivtsov (0:02), 4 Le Mevel (0:05), 5 Lastras (0:22), 6 Nibali (0:24), 7 Scarponi (0:26), 8 Kruijswijk (0:28), 9 Contador (0:30), 10 Serpa (0:33)



May 12 - The organizers of the Giro d'Italia promise to conduct a safety review on the unpaved section of Stage 14

The dirt track over the Monte Crostis

Contador, Navarro and Hernandez training on the Monte Crostis (Photo News)

AS.COM/EP/REUTERS - The organizers of the Giro d’Italia have promised that they’re going to review the fourteenth stage of the Giro d’Italia, which features the descent of the Monte Crostis, following the death of Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt last Monday. The ascent in the Dolomites, which includes an unpaved section, has become a source of concern for the riders, since in the fourteen kilometers of descent there are no barriers to contain accidents, only ski nets.

“I don’t think we should come down an ascent that only has ski nets for protection. It doesn’t make it more exciting, we shouldn’t be asked to ride like that. It’s not necessary, the sport is exciting enough,” stated Canadian cyclist Michael Barry.

Furthermore, the director of the Giro d’Italia, Angelo Zomegnan, confirmed that they will review the area. “I understand that after the death of Wouter Weylandt, the cyclists are concerned about the descent of the Crostis. That’s why we’ll send several members of the organization to review the unpaved section. Our priority is that the riders are able to participate with complete security,” he said.

Weylandt, 26, crashed in the third stage after coming down the Passo del Bocco, a section that cyclists described as a “very technical” descent. The concern has reached the team directors, who commented that now they're giving the riders more alerts by radio about obstacles and dangers. “(The death of Weylandt) has raised many questions. It’s having an impact on all of us now, but to tell the truth, for the last year, we’ve been fighting to keep one of the few means (the radio) that we have for assuring the security of the cyclist,” indicated the directeur sportif of Movistar, José Luis Arrieta.


May 12

Alberto Contador: "The sterrato is an absolute atrocity. It's not worth it for us to go through these sections. Any crash could've had serious consequences and skew the classification among the favorites. I'm dedicated to cycling, not to cyclocross."


May 11 - Contador says there's no way dirt roads are worth the risk

Eating dust in Tuscany

One day after honoring the memory of Wouter, riders feared for their safety on dirt roads in Tuscany (Luk Beines/AFP/Getty Images)

Stage 5, Wednesday, May 11: Piombino – Orvieto, 191 km (medium mountain)

Alberto Contador reached the finish line today feeling glad to have stayed out of trouble, but also with very clear ideas about this type of stage. “There’s no way this is worth it,” he said in reference to the dangerous sections of dirt road included in the route. “We’re risking crashes with consequences that could be quite serious, plus the outcome of the race could end up a little skewed. I hope they don’t put in things like this again.”

In spite of that, Alberto was happy with the results of the stage. “I got through the day without problems and I’m already thinking about recovering for tomorrow,” said the leader of Saxo Bank-SunGard. “Nibali attacked on the first section of dirt, but he did it on the descent and I was determined to take no risks whatsoever. Then we caught him quickly and I felt pretty good.”

On the final climb, Alberto said that he had ridden simply “to keep from losing a second. I went to the front of the group, which is not the best position, but I had everything more or less under control. We got through the day without problems.”

(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)


RESULTS: Contador in Stage 5, 7th (0:08 Pieter Weening). Contador in GC, 9th (0:30 Weening)

TOP TEN: 1 Weening (14:59:33), 2 Pinotti (0:02), 3 Sivtsov (0:02), 4 Le Mevel (0:05), 5 Lastras (0:22), 6 Nibali (0:24), 7 Scarponi (0:26), 8 Kruijswijk (0:28), 9 Contador (0:30), 10 Serpa (0:33)

Saxo Bank-SunGard DS Philippe Maduit, after the stage: “Today, the boys did a good job taking care of Alberto and he was followed by Volodymir all the way to the finish line. Alberto demonstrated good form without using too much energy. Unfortunately, Richie crashed with 50 kilometers to go but he was up again and finished the stage safely. We're very confident and now we are focusing on recovering before tomorrow's long stage."

The complete Leopard Trek team went home today, as well as Garmin Cervelo's Tyler Farrar, to manage their grief at the loss of Wouter Weylandt. The Giro d'Italia organization has decided to retire Wouter's number, 108.


May 10 - A moving day-long ceremony escorts Wouter's team and best friend Tyler Farrar to the podium in Livorno

David Millar and Alberto Contador before Stage 4 processional in honor of Wouter Weylandt

David Millar steadies Alberto Contador on a day of deep sadness at the Giro d'Italia (Luk Beines/AFP/Getty Images)

Alberto Contador and all of his colleagues in the Giro peloton dedicated today’s stage to honoring the memory of the late Wouter Weylandt.

The stage was neutralized from start to finish. It began with an emotional departure in Genoa during which a bugle taps was played, in memory of the rider, before a crowd held in poignant silence. At the finish in Livorno, the peloton made way for the men of Leopard Trek, accompanied by Weylandt’s best friend Tyler Farrar, to come to the front and cross the finish line together, hugging and crying at the loss of their companion. The sad day ended with all of them on the podium to the applause of thousands of fans, who had also lined the road during the length of the stage.

(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)

According to EFE, Alberto commented: “It’s been a very special and emotional day. "We’ve all ridden together thinking of Wouter Weylandt. It was a beautiful homage,” he said at the finish line.

The Giro continues tomorrow with Stage 5, where the riders will encounter dirt roads for the first time in this edition when they tackle a 23-km unpaved section which begins at about 40 kilometers from the finish line in Orvieto.

Alberto Contador is ready to face a return to the normalcy of competition: “Now we have to try to recover and go on. Tomorrow is another day, but this stage is for our fallen compañero,” he said.

RESULTS: Since today's race was not disputed, no results were recorded.


May 10 - Wouter Weylandt, in memoriam

Contador: “Today is going to be a very difficult day for everyone”

EFE - Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) has commented that today’s Giro stage “is going to be very difficult for everyone,” following the peloton’s decision to neutralize the 216-km stage from Genova to Livorno in observation of the passing of Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt in an accident yesterday.

“Today is going to be a very difficult day. We’ve got so many things going through our minds, but I think the best thing we can do is to go out and pay homage to Weylandt and his family,” said Alberto Contador.

“What happened is a terrible misfortune, and it’s very complicated to ride in these conditions. When they give you news like that, it’s impossible to know how to react and come to terms with it,” added the cyclist from Pinto.

“Wouter Weylandt was a young man and a great rider who had already gotten important victories in the Giro and in the Vuelta a España,” he remembered.

Contador concurred with the decision to neutralize the stage, in which all teams will take turns in front. At two kilometers from the arrival in Livorno, Weylandt’s team, Leopard Trek, will go to the front of the peloton so that his teammates can cross the finish line together.

Sunset by the sea in Livorno, and a masterful rendition of a song of grief: To Wouter Weylandt.


May 9 - Alberto Contador devastated by news of death of Wouter Weylandt

Alberto Contador and all members of the Saxo Bank-SunGard team were devastated at the finish line today to hear the news of the tragic death of Wouter Weylandt in an accident. Like the rest of the Giro peloton, they finished the stage without knowing what had happened, and were already on the way to the hotel when confirmation of the death of the Leopard Trek rider was received.

“It’s terrible news, news that has spread mourning throughout the cycling family,” said Contador. “I’d like to send all my condolences to Wouter’s family, to all his friends, and to send a message of encouragement and support to the Leopard team, as well as to the entire cycling family. We may not all be on the same team but we are all in the same place, and this is a very difficult day for the world of cycling.”

(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)


May 9 - Basso calls Contador "a cut above" and thinks Etna might narrow the field

94th Giro d'Italia Ivan Basso says that Alberto Contador is the favorite to win the Giro

European Press Agency | Italian cyclist Ivan Basso of Liquigas says that the Spaniard Alberto Contador is the favorite to win the current edition of the Giro d’Italia.

“I don’t think it takes a genius to say it: Contador is a cut above the rest,” said Basso in an interview published in the Italian daily Corriere delle Sera.

The Italian, who has skipped competing in this edition of the race in order to focus on the Tour de France, explains that he “really misses” participating in the Giro d’Italia, a competition that he has won twice, in 2006 and 2010.

“Not taking the start with the number 1 on my back is a shame, but it didn’t make sense for a team like Liquigas to have two leaders like Vincenzo Nibali and me,” he tells the newspaper.

To be exact, Basso decribes his teammate and countryman as Contador’s “main adversary” and indicates that last year he matured a lot and has gotten “great confidence.” Besides Nibali, Basso points to the progress of Italian rider Michele Scarponi, who after getting fourth place in last year’s Giro, “has become an even more dangerous rival.”

About the Russian Denis Menchov, the Basso stressed that “he’s still among the most competitive riders,” while he’s confident that Spaniard Carlos Sastre, in spite of his 36 years, is still one of the strongest climbers in the upper ranks, and that’s why both veteran cyclists could, in his opinion, fight for the podium.

The Italian rider explains that, although there are voices that point out an especially hard Giro this year, the riders won’t lose the initiative for attacking on the climbs and that, in fact, this edition will be “even more spectacular” than previous ones.

Basso calls attention to Stage 13, which ends on Monte Zoncolan after 210 kilometers, the majority of them on climbs. However, he insists that a few days before, in Stage 9 from Messina to Etna, it might be possible to see the first inidications of the riders that will be fighting for the final title.

“Most of all, we’ll find out who will not be able to win the Giro,” he said.


May 8 - One day closer to the mountains, Contador's team keeps him safe

94th Giro d'Italia, Stage 2

Rolling from Alba to Parma in Stage 2 (Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty Images)

Stage 2, Sunday, May 8: Alba – Parma, 244 km (flat)

Alberto Contador commented after the race today, the longest day at the office for riders in this edition of the Giro d’Italia, that Stage 2 was “a very long stage, marked by the heat, because the temperature was 34 or 35 degrees the whole time, which is rather unusual at this time of year.”

Contador described the final part of the stage as “very fast, with some tension due to the escape that was launched at the end, but we’ve been careful, the team has supported me at all times and there’s already one less day.”

Alberto was glad that the escape went away soon after the stage began, although he said that “if it had been us as leaders, we would’ve needed 100 kilometers to make an escape,” referring to how rivals usually make things difficult for his team. “People probably thought a lot about how much race is left, more than ever since it was such a long stage, because you’d have to be pretty brave to get into an escape today.”

For the leader of Saxo Bank-SunGard, the hardest thing “was the kilometers rather than the heat, even though it was the first time this year that there’ve been temperatures like that, and I’m sure that we’ve gotten a little sunburned, but otherwise it’s been a relatively comfortable day.”

(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)

A long, hot, flat stage with a disappointed fortune-hunter and a bunch sprint: that characterizes Sunday's Stage 2 of the Giro d'Italia. Omega Pharma-Lotto's Sebastian Lang escaped at km 3 and rode solo for 215 kilometers in this longest stage of the 2011 edition. His catch at 26 km before the finish was followed quickly by an attack by a Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli rider that initiated an eight-man escape. While this effort added spice late in the race, it was nullified at about 8 km to go, and the scene shifted to a pack finish.

Alessandro Petacchi took the sprint win in a photo finish with Mark Cavendish. Bonifications at the line put Cavendish into the maglia rosa, sending yesterday's leader, Marco Pinotti into sixth place.

Saxo Bank-SunGard DS Philippe Maduit said after the stage, "It was a very fast and long stage and the boys covered Alberto well and that's the main goal for us today. Tomorrow's stage is more difficult. It's going to be 173 kilometers with a few climbs that might keep the sprinters away from the finish. So we want to protect Alberto and keep him up front to avoid crash and to avoid any loss of time."

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 2, 29th (s.t. Petacchi-5:45:40). Contador in GC, 41st (0:42 Cavendish)
TOP SIX: 1 Cavendish (6:06:27), 2 Sivtsov (0:12), 3 Lewis (0:12), 4 Pinotti (0:12), 5 Bak (0:12), 6 Petacchi (0:16)




May 8 - Saxo Bank-SunGard Dane is "crazy happy" working to help Alberto capture another title

Michael Mørkøv Ekstra Bladet - Michael Mørkøv is eager to work his butt off to please Alberto Contador.

Due to the ongoing doping probe, Alberto Contador is not sure whether he’ll get to ride the Tour de France, making the Spaniard extra-motivated to win the Giro d’Italia.

Mørkøv, who is set to work his butt off for the Spaniard, analyzes how the people within the team feel, and how focused Contador is on repeating his 2008 victory. “He might not say it so directly in the press, but he is ready, and he is ready to win.”

Always says thanks
According to Mørkøv, Alberto Contador lives up to the rule of thumb that says the biggest stars are also the most humble. Instead of putting his nose in the air, Contador puts out feelers daily to sample the ambiance around his helpers.

“Alberto is a real pal. He never takes getting help for granted. Afterwards, he always comes over and says thanks. Whatever job you have, it’s important to feel appreciated and Alberto understands that.

Michael Mørkøv can look forward to three weeks of torment in what many have described as history’s toughest Giro route. His task will be to set the pace and help Alberto Contador in the first part of the stage. “There’s no place that I can go after personal results.”

"Crazy happy"
In last year’s Giro, which was his grand tour debut, Mørkøv finished 129th, more than four hours behind the winner, Ivan Basso, who is not attending the race this year.

“It would be a dream if we succeeded in helping Alberto on to overall victory. I’m crazy happy and I know from experience that I’m physically and mentally strong against such a long race. The biggest challenge for me will be to stay within the time limit in the big mountain stages, where my work will be to ride out before the final hills.”


May 7 - The long-awaited day ends satisfactorily for Saxo Bank-SunGard

Giro d'Italia 2011, Stage 1

Team Saxo Bank-SunGard in the Giro's opening team time trial (Reuters)

Stage 1, Saturday, May 7: Venaria Reale - Torino (TTT), 19.3 km

Saxo Bank-SunGard finished today’s opening stage of the Giro d’Italia, the team time trial, with a good result, according to Alberto Contador’s post-stage analysis. “The result is very good, we lost a few seconds, but in a certain way we ended up benefiting, since the biggest rivals—Liquigas, Lampre and Geox—did a very good crono, but the differences were insignificant.”

94th Giro d'Italia, 2011 Alberto said that he’s “very happy with my teammates’ work. We handed off smoothly and I’m happy with the result.” About the race, he said that they “managed quite well because we knew that we wouldn’t be able to take risks, since this is like a prologue, or even more dangerous, because here the whole team could crash. We proceeded with great caution on the curves, likewise in the first kilometer—which was over cobblestones—to avoid any possible mishaps, and in spite of everything we got a great time.”

He went on to comment that the victory by HTC was expected. “They were the main favorite, it was their goal and now they’ll fight for sprint victories with Cavendish, who’s one of the three strongest sprinters. On those days, they’ll have control.”

Contador was also happy that the race has finally started. “I was eager to start riding, because these days get quite long and you really want to get into the race. Today’s been a full day and what I want now is to get to the hotel and rest, because tomorrow there’s a marathon of over 240 kilometers waiting for us.”

(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)

The 94th Giro d'Italia got started with a 19.3-kilometer team time trial over a picturesque urban route in Turin that delightfully seemed to plunge the spectator into one of the works of Canaletto.

Saxo Bank-SunGard was the twelfth of 23 team to depart, taking the start at 16:34 and accomplishing the course in 21'29". It was not a winning result, but it left the team in the tranquility of an overlookable 8th place, only half-a-minute off the top spot.

Saxo Bank-SunGard commander-in-chief Bjarne Riis said after the stage, ”I'm absolutely content with the guys' performance today. They were a bit nervous before rolling out but when they started the course, they did it splendidly. The pace was high and they were working together beautifully. We only lost a few seconds to the biggest rivals overall and that's the main focus for us. The main thing is the result in Milano. The next few stages our goal is to stay out of bad luck and the crashes that might occur in the bunch sprints."

And according to Richie Porte: ”We did a good TTT today. We did exactly what we should and our main focus is naturally aimed at Alberto's overall result in three weeks. I was feeling strong and am ready to deliver and support Alberto all the way. I'm really looking forward to the next three weeks. We have Alberto here on our team and he is probably the biggest favorite to win. However, we have got 3700 km to Milan so nothing is decided beforehand but I think it's going to be a great race. We have a really nice team here, a strong team and we are all ready.”


RESULTS: Contador in Stage 1, 51st (0:30 Team HTC-Highroad). Contador in GC, 51st (0:30 Pinotti)
TOP THREE TEAMS: 1 HTC-Highroad, 2 RadioShack, (0:10), 3 Liquigas (0:22)

Saxo Bank-SunGard Giro d'Italia roster: 181 Alberto Contador, 182 Laurent Didier, 183 Volodymir Gustov, 184 Jesús Hernández, 185 Kaspar Klostergaard, 186 Richie Porte, 187 Dani Navarro, 188 Matteo Tosatto, 189 Michael Morkov


May 7 - Contador's friend and training partner is ready to work

Jesús Hernández Jesús Hernández prepared to help Contador in the “brutal” stages

EFE | May 6 - Jesús Hernández, a right-hand man of Alberto Contador at Saxo Bank, is “ready and willing” to face the "brutal" stages of the Dolomites at the side of his team leader, who has asked for his collaboration, together with Dani Navarro, in the decisive portion of Giro 2011, which begins tomorrow with a team time trial from Venaria Reale to Turin.

Hernández, 29, is making his debut in the Giro and has been with Contador throughout preparation for the race, paying a visit with him after La Flêche Wallonne to the mountain stages which will prove decisive in last nine days of las corsa rosa.

“Alberto has asked me to be with him in the mountains, so the first week I’m going to take it fairly easy, and from Stage 13 on, it gets hard. It’s scary, because there are brutal routes with incredible climbs. In spite of its difficulty, I like the route and it will be the same for everybody,” said the cyclist from Madrid.

Very close to Contador since their beginnings in the professional ranks, Jesús Hernández signed with Astana in 2009 at the request of his friend from Pinto. Now they’re together again at Saxo Bank, for whom he'll face a personal challenge in the Giro.

“It’s my first Giro and I’m coming very well prepared, feeling good and very motivated to pull my share of the load for the team and especially for Alberto Contador,” he said.

About the team's leader, Hernández said that Contador is “calm and all set to enjoy the race, without pressure.”

Photo of Jesús Hernández from the Tim de Waele free access gallery


May 7 - Teammates and a rival talk about Contador and the Giro

Matteo Tosatto Matteo Tosatto (Saxo Bank-SunGard): “Alberto has been born like a champion, and you can notice that from the beginning when you meet him,” he said. “The first race I did with him at the Volta ao Algarve and I noticed there that his determination was impressive. He was not in the best condition, but he did the maximum there.

“Throughout his whole career, he has demonstrated that he is the strongest rider. He thinks cycling 24 hours a day and that makes a different. Because of that, he is the strongest and the favourite for the race at the moment.” (Velonation)

Kaspar Klostergaard Kaspar Klostergaard (Saxo Bank-SunGard): “I think our chances of taking the overall win are pretty fair. Alberto's naturally here to win and he's simply amazing to be around.

"Every professional knows how to handle a bike, and there are other favorites here so we don't take anything for granted and we know how much work this is going to take. But he knows what to do. I have great confidence in him. He's a perfectionist, he's a man of structure and discipline.

"During the training camp he was already well ahead of everyone and when we were going uphill, he started out a few minutes behind everyone else and we reached the summit together anyway.” (Saxo Bank-SunGard official website)

Dani Navarro Dani Navarro (Saxo Bank-SunGard): Navarro, recovering from an infection that he came down with in the Volta a Cataluyna, says that “Alberto always goes to win. He’s doing well, but there are great riders, that’s why we’ll have to give everything for him.”

Navarro is doing his third Giro and has spent several weeks inspecting the mountain stages. “It’ll be hard from day one, but whoever makes it past Zoncolan, in the Dolomites, will have a lot of options for winning the race.” (El Comercio)

Denis Menchov (GEOX): “I’m very well and everthing is going exactly as planned. I don’t think that Alberto Contador is unbeatable, the race is the race and in three weeks anything can happen. We must be on guard and take advantage of each possible occasion, because we’re going out to win.”

When asked whether it bothers him to ride with someone who has a case pending at CAS, Menchov replied, “For me, that changes nothing, it doesn’t bother me at all. Cycling is made up of things like that and it’s not our affair. He's doing his job and we've only got to worry about doing ours the best we possibly can.” (EFE)

Photos of Matteo Tosatto (upper right), Kaspar Klostergaard (middle left) and Dani Navarro (lower right) from the Tim de Waele free access gallery


May 6 - Alberto's on guard against Liquigas man from the land of Etna

94th Giro d'Italia pre-race press conference

Reporters crowd in for a word from Contador at Saxo's pre-Giro press conference (AC press room)

“There are many rivals, but Nibali is probably the most dangerous”

94th Giro d'Italia The entire Saxo Bank-SunGard team, under the wing of Bjarne Riis, held a press conference today in advance of the start of the Giro d’Italia. The team’s owner and manager emphasized his men’s motivation for pursuing the overall win and welcomed Alberto Contador as team leader.

Riis noted that it’s a pleasure “to be with him and to showcase him at the start line. It’s hard to find a professional like him and I believe he’s ready to compete.”

Alberto Contador answered questions from journalists who attended the event at the team’s Torino-area hotel, beginning by explaining his reasons for returning to the Giro d’Italia. “We’ve included the Giro in my schedule because I felt indebted to this race and cherish great memories of 2008. Of course, I’m here because I decided to try to win the Giro—it hasn’t been influenced at all by the Tour de France situation.”

As a reminder that he’s reserving the option of trying for the double, Alberto said, “It’s something lovely and different. I’m going to try to do the best I possibly can in both races, fighting for victory, even though it’s very difficult. Of course, the Giro isn’t the best preparation for the Tour, especially since it’s so hard this year, but you also have to seek new things to motivate you.”

Alberto firmly voiced his conviction that the sport of cycling “is fully credible, and thrilling for the fans. The route draws on that, and people can fully believe in the truth of this sport,” he said in reference cycling’s current and well-publicized woes.

Asked whether he will bear more pressure in the Giro than in the Tour, Contador said that in France “the pressure is special, because I’m always expected to win there. The Giro is different. I come with aspirations and in good form, but I’ll go day by day. There are other riders under greater pressure, like Nibali, Scarponi, or the Geox team, for whom the Giro is crucial.”

As for Nibali, he said that the leader of Liquigas “has been very consistent for the last year and a half, and that reliability is going to influence a lot in this Giro. He’s already done a great Tour in 2009, finishing in the top 10; last year he finished third in the Giro working for Basso and, without even being familiar with it, he pulled off a win in the Vuelta a España. Now he’s prepared himself well and he has a very focused team. There are many rivals, but he’s probably the most dangerous, mainly because this race is always very special for the Italian riders.”


(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)


May 6 - Saxo Bank-SunGard boss says facing "unhuman" Giro route is about being professional, recovering and playing it smart

Bjarne Riis at Fleche 2011

Bjarne Riis, owner and manager of Team Saxo Bank-SunGard (Kahane)

Contador to Riis: "Bjarne, give me a bike and in one month I'm ready to win races"

At today's press conference held by Team Saxo Bank-SunGard, Bjarne Riis commented at length about his new captain, Alberto Contador, and this edition of la corse rosa:

"How is Alberto compared with the other leaders I’ve had in the years with the team? Well, I can say that all cyclists are different. Every leader we have had in the team is a different personality. For sure, for me Alberto is a great champion. He has unbelievable qualities as a bike rider, but also personal skills that’s very important to be a leader for a team. You know, he takes care, not just of these guys here, he cares a lot about them, but also the rest of the team, the staff, which is very important. He shows big skills and qualities in that direction, for sure.

“I don’t like to compare different leaders too much, because everybody has the right to be their own, and I don’t like that everybody’s the same. Alberto has to be Alberto, Basso has to be Basso. Sometimes it’s too easy just to compare, but I don’t really want to do that.

“He’s very dedicated. I think the two most dedicated leaders I’ve had in the team is Basso and Alberto. But they’re two different kind of riders. Alberto’s very serious. He’s always well-prepared in every single race he’s doing. Nothing is by accident.

“I remember when we met for the first time with the team, in December, we talked about the program. I had an idea of a beautiful program, and he said, ‘Yeah, but Bjarne, I don’t need to do that many races.’ I was like, ‘Okay, why?’ ‘Bjarne, give me a bike and in one month I’m ready to win races.’ Not many riders can say that. I’ve met nobody. But actually, Alberto can do that. And that just shows his quality, that he’s always good. Always, in the off-season, he’s always well-prepared. So it tells a lot. The rest I’ve seen on the road, the qualities he has. It’s unbelievable.”

“If this Giro is the hardest race ever, we don’t know yet. I mean, on the paper, the parcours is very difficult. Yes, there are some crazy stages. But before we have faced it, we don’t really know. Of course, it’s the parcours and the peloton that makes it hard, always hard. So I think we just have to take it day by day and yes, it is a hard Giro, but it is what it is.

“I mean, there’s been a lot of talking about 'it’s too hard, it’s unhuman, it’s too much transfer, it’s too much,' you know. Yes, but let’s discuss that afterwards, because now it’s too late. Now it’s what we have for the next three weeks and we don’t need to complain about it, because tomorrow we face the start. So let’s face it, let’s do it. It’s about being professional, recover between the stages, play it smart and this what we’re going to do.”



May 5 - Contador safe to Italy, works relay technique with Saxo for opening stage of what promises to be a spectacular Giro d'Italia

94th Giro d'Italia, 2011 Alberto Contador did his first training session on Italian soil yesterday, together with his Saxo Bank-SunGard teammates. The team devoted the day to a couple of hours of riding, then climbed onto the time trial bikes to work on relay technique.

All in all, it was about three hours of work recovering muscle tone after the airline flight and checking to see that everything is in order, starting with the bicycles, since Alberto will have a new custom frame that features the Triple Crown colors on a white background.

Tomorrow, on the eve of the race, training will be dedicated to reconnaissance of the team time trial route. In the evening, all riders will attend the first big event of this year’s Giro, the official race presentation.

(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)


May 4 - 2008 champion is happy with team and eager to embark on epic journey from Turin to Milan this Saturday

Alberto Contador departs for Italy today

Alberto Contador travels to Italy today, Wednesday, where next Saturday, May 7, he’ll start the Giro d’Italia, his first grand tour of the season. After competing most recently in La Flêche Wallonne, the leader of Saxo Bank-SunGard is optimistic leading in to the three weeks in Italy, confident in the soundness of his team and happy to be going back to the Giro to build on the good memories of his 2008 victory.

The Giro d’Italia starts Saturday, are you eager to start riding?

Yes, I am eager to start the Giro, because in these last two months, I’ve tried to do good preparation, without obsessing, but I think that I’m arriving well and I’m eager to get started.

How are you as you face your first grand tour of the year, are you coming into good form?

You never know. I’ve had a cold recently and I’ve also been backing off a bit now because I seem to have been a little fatigued, but I think that on Saturday, when the race gets started, I’ll be in good shape.

What have you done since La Flêche Wallonne to tune up?

After finishing Flêche, I went to Italy and reconned four unbelievably hard Giro stages. After that, I had to do some travel for business with sponsors, then I took the opportunity to do a three-day camp in the Sierra de Madrid to complete the tune-up.

What differences are there between this Giro and the 2008 edition?

There are some pretty big ones. In 2008, I was clueless about the Giro. I didn’t know how it started or what the route was like or which riders were going. I knew absolutely nothing. This year, on the other hand, I know the riders that are going, I know the route and I’ve been able to do preparation that’s tailored to the Giro. About the route, I think it’s much harder than the one I rode in 2008, although it’s true what some riders say, that that one was really hard, too, but I think that the difficulty of this one is greater.

Is it possible that this is the hardest three-week race you’ve ever ridden?

Yes, in terms of the route, I’m sure.

There’s a lot of talk about the mountain stages, but how important will the three time trials be?

They’ll be important, because any second of advantage that you can get is crucial. The team time trial won’t have the same significance that it's had on other occasions, like in the 2009 Tour, when it left its mark on the general. Here, it will only serve to create some differences, but it won’t be decisive at the end of the Giro. About the cronoescalada and the Milan ITT, they’re demanding. The cronoescalada because it has very tough stretches, and the last one because it’s when everybody’s legs are shattered, and that might tip the balance in the case of two riders being virutally even at the end.

Is the Giro comparable to the Tour de France, does it have the same importance, the same amount of pressure?

The pressure depends on each rider. I’m sure that riders like Nibali and Scarponi are under more pressure than I am. I take on the Giro in a totally different way than the Tour. In the Tour, I’m under much greater pressure than in the Giro. About the difficulty, one never knows. Sometimes the Tour works out and you get the victory after a bit less of a melee than other times. On the other hand, you get to the Giro and it turns out to be more difficult to win it. The difference in the Tour is that the mountains are climbed at an extremely high speed and the flat days absolutely wear you out, while in the Giro they’re a little more bearable.

Who are the most important rivals?

There are many, many rivals. I don’t like to name names because you always fail to mention somebody, but I think that the ones who are most motivated and under the most pressure are Nibali, Scarponi and Menchov. Then there’s a great group with Kreuziger, Igor Antón, Joaquím, Sastre, Sella and many others who’ll also have options.

Are you happy with Saxo Bank-SunGard’s roster for the Giro?

Yes, I’m happy because the riders are motivated and, even though there are stronger teams than ours for the mountains—like Liquigas, Lampre, Geox and Katusha—I’m happy, and I’ve got complete confidence in all of them. I think that they’re going to respond perfectly.

(Official press release, Alberto Contador press room)


May 1 - Teammate Mørkøv and Giro rival Nibali about Contador

94th Giro d'Italia, 2011 Michael Mørkøv: “I’m pleased to be helping Contador, because I got an excellent impression of him in the Volta ao Algarve, which is the only race I’ve ridden with him.

"He’s an exceptional rider, the perfect captain, but also a sympathic man, and in Portugal at least, I saw that he knew how to appreciate his teammates’ actions in a way that really inspires you to work hard for him.” (Politiken)

Vincenzo Nibali: “Alberto is beyond any doubt the best cyclist in stage races today. He’s determined, always hungry for victory. Physically, I’m ready and focused. It will be a very difficult challenge, but I’m not going to give up. I’m going to give everything I've got to beat him and it will be the race that will put each one in his place. His presence will also be a big motivator: Do you know what it means to win a Giro over Contador?” (Sky.it)


April 30 - Contador's team promise extra thrills by adding Richie Porte

Alberto Contador will be accompanied by Kaspar Klostergaard, Jesús Hernández, Dani Navarro, Michael Mørkøv, Matteo Tosatto, Laurent Didier, Richie Porte and Volodymir Gustov at the start line of the Giro d’Italia, said the Saxo Bank-SunGard team in a press release today.

The new development is the inclusion of Australian Richie Porte. Porte will strengthen Saxo Bank-SunGard’s options in both the team time trial on the first day and in the tough mountain stages that the riders will face in the second and third weeks.

On knowing the final list of riders, Alberto Contador said that “deciding the Giro d’Italia team has been a difficult job because there were a lot of motivated riders who were eager to ride. It’s ended up a very good selection and we’re presenting a strong team, but we’re also aware that we’ll find very strong rivals at the start line, whose indisputable goal is to win the Giro. I’m confident that we’ll play a good role and that we’ll be fighting for the race.”

Alberto will travel to Turin next Wednesday, where the Giro d’Italia will begin with a 19.3-kilometer team time trial on Saturday, May 7.

Official press release, Alberto Contador press room

Michael Mørkøv of Saxo Bank-SunGard


April 27 - Young Saxo Bank-SunGard Dane has dream-come-true role as Contador's domestique

feltet.dk - Saxo Bank-SunGard is riding the Giro to win with Alberto Contador, and riding as domestique will be Michael Mørkøv.

When Saxo Bank-SunGard announced their team on Sunday for this year's Giro, it was with Michael Mørkøv among the nine names, in spite of the fact that he only entered the picture recently.

"I think the Giro is a great race, but last winter—when my program was planned with the team—it was not on it. It’s been changed lately, and I'm doing the Tour de Romandie for preparation, so I look forward to it very much," Mørkøv explains to Feltet.dk.

Michael Mørkøv made his grand tour debut last year, when he participated in and finished the Giro. This time he has had optimal preparation, which has come with an unfortunate backstory. The day before Paris-Roubaix, he crashed in a slick of soapy water in a parking lot and hit his arm. That’s why he was forced to take a short break.

“It actually really worked out well. If I’d known that I was going to ride the Giro, I would’ve probably been a bit stressed about starting up again. Now I’ve been forced to take a week’s break, so that my arm could rest. Since I started training again, I’ve felt very good. So when I’ve gone through Romandie, I should be completely ready for the Giro.

Giro role and the dream

Besides Michael Mørkøv and Alberto Contador, the Saxo Bank-SunGard team for the Giro includes Laurent Didier, Volodymir Gustov, Jesús Hernández, Kasper Klostergaard, Gustav Larsson, Daniel Navarro and Matteo Tosatto. The focus is solely to lead Contador to the overall victory, and here Mørkøv knows his own role well.

“We’re taking a lot of riders to help for the mountains, so it’s not my role to deliver Alberto there. I can deliver a really good effort for the TTT, and I expect to have to work a lot in the front if Alberto takes the leader’s jersey.

“I know it sounds weird to say, but it’s always been my dream to ride for a very good captain. Not since Lance Armstrong has there been as good a stage race rider as Alberto is today, so it will be very special for sure to help and look after him.”

If Alberto rides himself into the pink leader jersey, it won’t be the first time Mørkøv has tried to defend it. He tried that already last year when Richie rode in it. According to Mørkøv, it’s a completely different task that awaits him and his teammates this year.

“It was different with Richie last year when we knew that he couldn’t keep it to Milan. In addition, we were fortunate that both Caisse and Cervelo took on a lot of the work to control the field. When we start with Alberto this year, we risk riding in the front from the first day to the last, if the other teams say that we have the biggest favorite. In addition, we may risk that Alberto takes the Pink jersey early on, and that means hard work at the front. But that is also precisely what I’m good at.”

Not all teams have finalized rosters yet, but Michael Mørkøv can already identify the toughest competitors.

“Scarponi has been riding very strongly this year, so I see him as our biggest challenger. In addition, Nibali. The Giro is a very big goal for him and for his team, so those are the ones we should watch out for.”

Photo of Michael Mørkøv by TDW for Saxo Bank-SunGard


April 24 - Alberto, Navarro and Hernandez arm themselves for battle in the mountains of the 94th Giro d'Italia


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