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Cycling-Contador survives Astana onslaught to extend Giro lead (Reuters)
May 26, 2015 (18:00) [ Indexed from Yahoo! Sports ]
Alberto Contador survived an onslaught from rival team Astana to move closer to a second Giro d'Italia title as he finished Tuesday's queen stage in Aprica in third place. Spain's Contador started the day with a 2:35 lead and now has an advantage of four minutes two seconds over compatriot Mikel Landa (Astana), who won the 16th stage 38 seconds ahead of Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk. Contador also ended the punishing 177-km mountain stage 38 seconds behind. More...
Alberto Contador shows off climbing skills on Mortirolo (The Associated Press)
May 26, 2015 (17:30) [ Indexed from Yahoo! Sports ]
APRICA, Italy (AP) -- Alberto Contador put on a demonstration of his climbing skills on the Mortirolo pass and extended his lead in the 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia on Tuesday. More...
Preview: Can the Mortirolo breathe new life into Giro dItalia?
May 26, 2015 (06:45) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
For three consecutive days, Alberto Contador has sat before the Giro dItalia press corps and insisted that the race is not over, despite his commanding advantage at the top of the overall standings, and as he did so, it was hard not to be reminded of similar protestations from his fellow countryman Miguel Indurain as he dominated Grand Tours in the early 1990s. Contador is being diplomatic, of course, but he is not entirely wrong. True, an advantage of 2:35 over a seemingly flagging Fabio Aru (Astana) seems unassailable for a rider of Contadors experience, and yes, the other pre-race favourites have either been eliminated from contention (Rigoberto Urn) or forced out altogether (Richie Porte), but there are still more than a thousand kilometres between here and Milan, as well as the three toughest stages of the Giro. The most daunting of them comes on Tuesday, as the peloton returns to action after the second rest day at Madonna di Campiglio and faces directly into the tappone from Pinzolo to Aprica, which features the Campo Carlo Magno, the Passo del Tonale and the mighty Mortirolo, which is set between two treks over the short haul to the finish.ADVERTISEMENT The Mortirolo, understandably, grabs the attention. Since its first appearance at the Giro in 1990, few climbs have built up such prestige in such a short space of time. Its introduction came about in part due to its altitude " at 1,854 metres, it avoided the same high risk of snow presented by the neighbouring giant, the Gavia " but its reputation has been forged by its difficulty. Stage 16 tackles the classic ascent of the Mortirolo, climbing from Mazzo di Valtellina and dropping to Edolo, and while extreme gradients are almost par for the course in modern cycling, the climbs slopes " which touch 18% and average 10.9% over its 12.8 kilometres " were a most intimidating novelty when thrust upon the peloton in the 1990s. The success of the Mortirolo " and in particular, the duel between Marco Pantani and Indurain in 1994 " triggered a scramble for steeper and steeper gradients. The Vuelta a Espaa added the Angliru in 1999, for instance, and " not to be outdone " the Giro responded with the Zoncolan. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Contador surprised by buffer as Giro dItalia enters final week
May 25, 2015 (23:15) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) is seemingly without rival at this Giro dItalia, to such an extent that during his rest day press conference in Giustino on Monday, he was asked how his 24-year-old self might have attempted to overhaul such a sizeable deficit in the final week of racing. Es complicado, Contador grinned. Its complicated. At the end of the Giro we can speak about it again. The subtext to the question, of course, is that Fabio Aru (Astana) carries fading home hopes in second place overall, but with an advantage of some 2:35 over the youngster, Contador is almost in a race of his own. Certainly, Contador did not anticipate that he would be in such a dominant position with six stages and the toughest mountains of the race still to come. Prior to the Giro, he had anticipated that the race would only truly begin with the stage 14 time trial to Valdobbiadene. Instead, with Richie Porte (Sky) already removed from contention, the Spaniard placed a significant down payment on final overall victory in Prosecco country.ADVERTISEMENT I didnt imagine Id have an advantage like this at this point in the race, he admitted. Its true that I was thinking that this last week would be my opportunity to take the maglia rosa. Right now Im happy with my position, its better than Id hoped for. But theres still a long way to go. Contador spent the rest day at the Olympic Royal Hotel, which has hosted Juventus for their pre-season training camps in summers past, and he met with reporters on Monday afternoon in a basement conference room decorated with murals of Michel Platini and Zbigniew Boniek. Their European Cup-winning team of 1985 had the tendency to rack up big home wins in their ties, and then grimly defend that advantage in the second leg. If anything, Contador faces into home territory now as the Giro enters the high mountains " and visits his adopted city of Lugano to boot " but like Giovanni Trappatonis squad of 30 years ago, caution will be his byword as he closes out the race. Garlanding his seemingly impending triumph with a stage victory is a luxury rather than an obligation, particularly as he has another pressing fixture, the Tour de France, still to come in July. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Giro d'Italia: 8 conclusions from the second week
May 25, 2015 (23:15) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
Contador weathers storm and sails into clearer waters Heading into last weeks rest day Tinkoff-Saxos Alberto Contador held a meagre three seconds over Fabio Aru (Astana) in the race for pink, with Richie Porte (Team Sky) and Arus teammate, Mikel Landa, both within a minute of the race lead. An injured shoulder, questions over his teams strength and Arus eagerness and ability to attack, all put Contador under siege but hes answered every question with all the assuredness of a rider whos Grand Tour win tally stretches onto two hands. It feels like an age has passed since Arus fireworks in the first week. Perhaps Contadors greatest ally over the last week has been his ability to manage. Of course Porte, Rigoberto Urn and even Aru have all wilted to varying degrees but the Spaniards dexterity to dissect his opponents strengths and weaknesses, before turning each of them to his advantage has been immeasurably impressive. On stage 15 he picked up time at an intermediate time bonus and had Astana floundering as a result. You could almost sense Astanas heads dropping one by one as they looked forlornly at Contadors latest play. It was just a couple seconds but it had the desired effect of reminding Arus men that only one man would determine this races final outcome.ADVERTISEMENT When it came to the final climb Contador then juggled stage winning hopes with the pragmatism of a man who knows how to defend a lead and by the finish line hed conceded the stage to Landa but had proved to Aru that his own challenge was quickly fading. All of this came after the individual time trial, arguably Contadors finest race against the clock since his career began. Theres still a week to go, and another twist of fate could change everything but at this rate Tinkoff-Saxo will be heading to the Tour de France with their first objective complete. Aru and Astana all at sea despite numerical advantage You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Amador and Trofimov lead surprises as Giro dItalia enters final week
May 25, 2015 (23:15) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
Abetone feels a long, long time ago. When the Giro dItalias first summit finish on stage 5 saw Alberto Contador, Richie Porte and Fabio Aru test one another out with a series of attacks, the expectation was that, even at that early juncture, the contest had been reduced to a three-horse race. Contadors display in the stage 14 time trial may well have since divested the battle for the maglia rosa of much of its suspense, but the collapse of both Porte and Rigoberto Urn this weekend has thrust some unexpected names into contention for a place on the final podium in Milan next Sunday. Chief among them is Andrey Amador (Movistar), who limited the damage better than most in the Valdobbiadene time trial, and then followed up that result with a battling display on the slopes of Madonna di Campiglio on Sunday, placing 6th on the stage to reach the Giros second rest day in third overall, 4:19 down on Contador.ADVERTISEMENT It was quite a difficult day, Amador said after wheeling to a halt past the finish line on Sunday. The day after a time trial is always anxious, because youre still suffering a bit after riding so hard in that position, but I got through it ok. I was a bit more worried about the penultimate climb [the Passo Daone " ed.] because it was so steep, but it went well. At 28 years of age, Amador has never been so highly-placed in a Grand Tour. His best overall finish to date remains his 29th place at the 2012 Giro, when he also won the stage to Cervinia, a mountain that the race revisits on Friday. The Costa Rican was understandably cautious about his prospects of staying in podium contention as the race enters its most demanding phase, estimating that a place in the top five would perhaps mark the very summit of his ambition. Well have to see day by day what I can do in the rest of the race. Its going to be a tough final week, Amador said. Im happy with where I am now and Id like to stay up there on GC. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Contador extends overall Giro lead; Landa wins 15th stage (The Associated Press)
May 25, 2015 (05:30) [ Indexed from Yahoo! Sports ]
Alberto Contador extended his overall lead of the Giro d'Italia by seven seconds on Sunday after finishing third behind winner Mikel Landa on a mountainous 15th stage. Landa attacked on the final steep section of the climb up to the Madonna Di Campiglio ski resort to claim his first Grand Tour stage victory, two seconds ahead of Yuri Trofimov. Contador finished five seconds behind his fellow Spaniard, but edged out his closest challenger Fabio Aru to claim valuable bonus seconds. More...
Cycling-Contador retains pink jersey after controlling Aru (Reuters)
May 25, 2015 (05:30) [ Indexed from Yahoo! Sports ]
Spain's Alberto Contador retained the Giro d'Italia overall lead when he finished third in the 15th stage, a 165-kilometre mountain trek up to Madonna Di Campiglio won by Spain's Mikel Landa on Sunday. The Tinkoff-Saxo rider, who snatched a six-second time bonus at an intermediate sprint, now leads second-placed Fabio Aru of Italy by two minutes 35 seconds. Russian Yury Trofimov attacked in the closing stages of the 15-km climb but Landa (Astana) countered and held off the Katusha rider, who finished second two seconds off the pace. More...
Giro d'Italia: Contador says Landa was stronger than Aru
May 24, 2015 (23:15) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
As microcosms of this Giro dItalia go, it was hard to beat. No fewer than five Astana riders led the pink jersey group as it sped towards the base of the climb to Madonna di Campiglio at the end of stage 15, while overall leader Alberto Contador found himself without a single Tinkoff-Saxo teammate for company. Advantage Fabio Aru? Not exactly. Moments later, as they approached the intermediate sprint at Pinzolo, Contador simply zipped off the front and helped himself to a two-second bonus before easing back into the group. The Astana quintet looked on, at a loss, perhaps, about how to deal with a man whose default setting is defiance. It was a similar refrain on the climb to the finish, where Contador parried the attacks of Aru and Mikel Landa in the final three kilometres, and even unleashed a testing combination of his own for good measure. He was ultimately content to let Landa slip away for the stage victory, while he outsprinted Aru for third place and another four seconds in bonuses to extend his lead to 2:35 over the Sardinian.ADVERTISEMENT In the final sprint, you always want to pick up a bonus if you can, especially as it doesnt use up energy that might cost you later in the race, Contador said. Clearly everyone would like to win a stage of the Giro, especially in a legendary place like Madonna di Campiglio. But it was a complicated climb today, there were a lot of Astana riders in the front group, and the gradients werent very steep for much of the climb. Landa was incredible, too, so it wasnt easy. Rather than straining to land a knock-out blow, Contadors careful approach would have Floyd Mayweather nodding in approval. Already a clear leader on the scorecard, the Spaniard seems content to keep landing jabs here and there as he runs out the clock on this Giro, particularly with the most lucrative prize fight of all, the Tour de France, still to come in July. I need to analyse every stage, there might be days where I could attack rather than defend, if my legs allow, Contador said of a final week that includes the tappone over the Mortirolo as well as summit finishes at Cervinia and Sestriere. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Giro d'Italia: Quotes from the finish line of stage 15
May 24, 2015 (23:15) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
Mikel Landa (Astana) capped another strong performance for his team by claiming stage 15 of the Giro dItalia to Madonna di Campiglio but his teammate Fabio Aru was unable to pull back time on race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo). In fact the Spaniard managed to extend his overall lead, picking up vital seconds at an immediate sprint and then finishing ahead of Aru on the final climb. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo) "At one time it felt like a team time trial but it went well. We couldnt go much faster because it was a crazy rhythm. I knew that when the attacks began Landa was strong. It was quite complicated to control but I looked after Aru and looked after the general classification. Landa won, he beat me and I didnt let any one win. I had to think about Aru."ADVERTISEMENT Leopold Konig (Team Sky) "I think after the result today [Im the leader]. We changed the plan last night and this is the priority. I just got dropped today but Im trying to take every second back from my stupid crash. I just hope that time isnt going to be important for when we get to Milan. I dont know about Richie, I dont know if its legs or motivation. You have to ask him." Mikel Landa (Astana) You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Cycling-Contador retains pink jersey after controlling Aru (Reuters)
May 24, 2015 (18:30) [ Indexed from Yahoo! Sports ]
Spain's Alberto Contador retained the Giro d'Italia overall lead when he finished third in the 15th stage, a 165-kilometre mountain trek up to Madonna Di Campiglio won by Spain's Mikel Landa on Sunday. The Tinkoff-Saxo rider, who snatched a six-second time bonus at an intermediate sprint, now leads second-placed Fabio Aru of Italy by two minutes 35 seconds. Russian Yury Trofimov attacked in the closing stages of the 15-km climb but Landa (Astana) countered and held off the Katusha rider, who finished second two seconds off the pace. More...
Contador extends overall Giro lead; Landa wins 15th stage
May 24, 2015 (18:15) [ Indexed from New Zealand Herald ]
MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, Italy (AP) " Alberto Contador extended his overall lead of the Giro d'Italia by seven seconds on Sunday after finishing third behind winner Mikel Landa on a mountainous 15th stage.Landa attacked on the final... More...
Contador extends overall Giro lead; Landa wins 15th stage (The Associated Press)
May 24, 2015 (17:45) [ Indexed from Yahoo! Sports ]
MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, Italy (AP) -- Alberto Contador extended his overall lead of the Giro d'Italia by seven seconds on Sunday after finishing third behind winner Mikel Landa on a mountainous 15th stage. More...
Contador reclaims Giro lead from Aru after time trial (The Associated Press)
May 24, 2015 (14:00) [ Indexed from Yahoo! Sports ]
Alberto Contador outclassed his rivals on a tough individual time trial Saturday to reclaim the overall lead of the Giro d'Italia after the 14th stage, which was won by Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus. Contador started the day 19 seconds behind Fabio Aru after a crash at the end of the previous stage lost him the overall leader's jersey. Andrey Amador went into third overall, 3:36 behind Contador after the unusually long time trial of 59.4 kilometers (36.9 miles) from Treviso to Valdobbiadene. More...
Cycling-Contador back in pink with sparkling time trial (Reuters)
May 24, 2015 (14:00) [ Indexed from Yahoo! Sports ]
(Adds quotes) May 23 (Reuters) - Alberto Contador took a commanding lead in the Giro d'Italia on Saturday with a strong performance in the 14th stage, a 59.4-km individual time trial won by Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus. After losing the pink jersey to Italian Fabio Aru after a crash on Friday, the Spaniard finished third on the day, 14 seconds behind Team Sky's Kiryienka, who clocked a best time of one hour 17 minutes 52 seconds. Spain's Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) took second place, 12 seconds off the pace. More...
Tinkov on Contador: Astana could try to drop him but they cant do it
May 23, 2015 (23:00) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
Tinkoff-Saxo team owner Oleg Tinkov returned to the Giro dItalia on Saturday, just in time to see Alberto Contador take back the pink jersey and set up overall success even before the mountain stages of the final week. The Russian businessman drank from the huge bottle of Prosecco that Contador opened on the podium and then took a tour of the media mixed zone before Contador arrived. He could not stop himself from trash talking about rival team Astana but insisted he was happy for stage winner Vasil Kiryienka, who he claimed he discovered when he signed him to the Tinkoff Credit System in 2007. I came directly to Treviso from Moscow after undergoing surgery on my knee. Im so glad I came, Tinkov said. When he crashed yesterday on the stage to Jesolo I was in the office and it wasnt clear what happened. I think I lost a couple of years of my life. I was disappointed he lost the leaders jersey because that had never happened to him before in his career. Usually when he grabs it, he keeps it. So that made me superstitious but everything went perfectly today.ADVERTISEMENT Well, we didnt win the stage but Alberto is in pink. Im actually double happy because I brought Kiry (Kiryienka) into professional sport. I signed him from a small Italian team after finding him. Id have preferred if Alberto had won but the wind changed and favoured the guys who started early. But thats cycling. Trash talking about Astana Although his recent knee surgery will stop him riding in the mountains of the Giro dItalia, Tinkov intends to stay on the race and is confident he will be celebrating in Milan on May 31. While Contador talked sportingly about Fabio Aru and the Astana team in his post-stage press conference, Tinkov did not hold back with some good-hearted trash talking. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Contador takes charge at the Giro dItalia after impressive time trial performance
May 23, 2015 (23:00) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) took back the pink jersey at the Giro dItalia and opened a lead of 2:28 on nearest rival Fabio Aru after his impressive ride in the 59.4km time trial to Valdobbiadene, yet he modestly and sportingly refused to say that he was now in total charge of the race. Contador went close to winning the stage, with a paced effort but was slowed by what seemed like a change in the wind direction. He finished third, 14 seconds slower than surprise winner Vasil Kiryienka (Team Sky) and two seconds slower than Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana). With Andrey Amador (Movistar) third at 3:36, Rigoberto Urn (Etixx-QuickStep) fourth at 4:14, and Richie Porte (Team Sky) down in 17th place at 8:52, Contador can play off his rivals as they fight for a podium spot or try to save their race. But he refused any comparison to fellow Spaniard Miguel Indurain, who was the master of control and making friends while he dominated his five Tour de France victories and two wins in the Giro dItalia in the early 1990s.ADVERTISEMENT Miguel was unique. He could do great time trials and made bigger differences than I ever can. Im not like him, Contador said in his post-race press conference. We'll see happens in the race. There are lots of different race situations that may come about over the coming days. They (Astana) have a strong team, and it's sometimes hard for me to hold myself back. In any case, sometimes the best form of defence is to attack. For sure Aru can still be a contender. I've ridden many Grand Tours and for many days as a race leader, and I know that you dont suddenly lose your form or good legs. Fabio didn't have a good day today, but he might have a great one tomorrow at Madonna di Campiglio. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Aru: Im not happy with my result but the Giro dItalia goes on
May 23, 2015 (23:00) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
As Fabio Aru carried his pink skinsuit in a brown paper bag on pulling up in an Astana team car ahead of the Giro dItalias stage 14 time trial in Treviso, he was surely aware that he would be handing the garment right back to Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) by close of business on Saturday afternoon. The only question was by how much. Astana general manager Alexandre Vinokourov had arrived expressly for the occasion, and after Aru boarded the team bus to change, he told reporters that he believed the youngster could pull out a solid performance on the long road Valdobbiadene. Despite the rain, a crowd of tifosi began to gather to serenade Aru during his warm-up, while Astanas backroom staff " including erstwhile Continental team director Dimitri Sedoun, rehabilitated as logistics manager for the WorldTour team " bustled about inside the cordon, preparing riders for the off. The mornings newspapers had devoted ample column inches to Arus unexpected spell in pink, with Paolo Bettini sounding a particularly hopeful note, reckoning that Aru could limit his losses to 30 seconds or so. Inevitably, the maglia rosa received the loudest cheers as he sat in the start house, but the once out on the road, the general optimism dissipated quickly. On a sodden day in the Veneto, the time trial delivered an arid truth. Aru appeared to struggle from the outset and even as the terrain became hillier in the finale, he continued to concede ground to Contador.ADVERTISEMENT By days end, he was 29th on the stage, 2:47 down on Contador and he falls to second overall, some 2:28 behind the Spaniard. A country mile after the game of inches of the opening two weeks. It was a long time trial, a long, long effort. To be honest, Im not happy with my result, but we go on and the Giro continues, Aru said afterwards. Alberto is a great champion and he put in a big performance today on such a long time trial. I still have a lot of work to do in this discipline. Quite how much work was already evident by the first time check, where Aru had already lost his virtual lead, trailing by 48 seconds after 17.6 kilometres. He applied a band-aid of sorts to the wound on the next leg, keeping the deficit at 57 seconds by kilometres 35, but as the road became more rugged, so too did Arus form become more ragged. He continued to haemorrhage time on the final ascent, the Santo Stefano. Where Contador all but danced up the final ascent, bobbing lightly from side to side, Aru seemed laboured, and only the finish line brought any respite. His hopes of final overall victory require extensive surgery. And yet, when the dust settles on this defining day of the 2015 Giro dItalia, Aru can console himself with the fact that others endured far greater disappointments. The 59km test was supposed to signal Richie Portes fightback, but instead he lost another 4:20 and all hope of a podium place. Rigoberto Urn (Etixx-QuickStep) climbed to fourth overall, but only picked up 16 seconds on Aru and is more than four minutes off the pink jersey.Mountains As the Giro enters the high mountains on the road to Madonna di Campiglio on Sunday, Aru is the closest thing to a realistic challenger to Contador. Speaking in the mixed zone after Tinkoff-Saxo owner Oleg Tinkov had thrown a friendly arm around him beneath the podium, Aru recognised the scale of the task facing him. Albertos a champion, its going to be very difficult. Hes won a lot of big tours in his career, he said, before brushing off a question on how he had enjoyed his day in pink. Ma dai, it was nice to nice to wear it but Alberto certainly put in a beautiful performance today. Aru was coy about where precisely he might try to upset Contador " his teammates Dario Cataldo and Mikel Landa also suffered heavy losses but remain useful allies in the top ten overall " though he appeared to warm to the task as he spoke, pointing out that almost all of the Giros mountain stages are still to come. Tomorrow, theres Madonna di Campiglio. On Tuesday, theres the Mortirolo. On Friday, theres Cervinia. On Saturday, theres Sestriere, Aru said, breaking into a smile as he rattled off the litany. There are still important mountain stages to come. A lot of hard stages. The last week is a hard final week. Aru showed signs of weakness on shorter climbs at Imola and Vicenza in midweek, however, and he failed to trouble Contador unduly at Abetone and Campitello Matese during Astanas onslaught in the opening nine days. Asked what he might do at Madonna di Campiglio on Sunday, Aru laughed shyly. That depends on these, he said, pointing to his legs. Tomorrow is a summit finish at the end of a difficult stage. Well have to recover and have a go. The base is there for the rest of the Giro and I certainly havent lost any of the hunger I had before today. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Giro d'Italia: Quotes from the finish line of stage 14
May 23, 2015 (23:00) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
Alberto Contadors (Tinkoff-Saxo) disappointment at losing the pink jersey at the Giro d'Italia didnt last long as the Spaniard stormed back into the race lead with an impressive time trial performance during stage 14. Many of the overall classification riders struggled but Contadors time was enough to put him in third on the day and take a big lead in the overall classification. Richie Porte was one of those to struggle in the time trial, apparently suffering from a knee injury he sustained in yesterdays crash. There was some salvation for Team Sky, though, asVasil Kiryienka took the stage win. Hell return to his duties as domestique come tomorrows mountain stage but the time trial was his chance to shine. Here is a selection of reactions from todays stage.ADVERTISEMENT Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) Im really happy. My legs are absolutely killing me. I wasnt sure how I was going to be today. The wind change was difficult today but Im really happy with today. The team has been really impressive. Yesterday, just 3.2km from the finish we had the crash. Tosatto was so, so clever giving me the bike and making sure I got across the line as quick as I could and limit my losses. Day by day theyve been working hard and theyre going to continue to do so. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...
Giro d'Italia: Stage 14 time trial preview
May 23, 2015 (23:00) [ Indexed from Cyclingnews.com ]
For the overall contenders the 'real' Giro starts from stage 14, Alberto Contador told Cyclingnews ten days before the race got underway in San Remo. He may well be minded to revise that opinion now, after two breathless weeks of racing where scarcely a day has gone by without the general classification contenders involved in one frisson or another. Yet when it comes to analysing bike races, Contador may not always be right, but he is never wrong: Saturdays 59.4-kilometre time trial from Treviso to Valdobbiadene is an opportunity for a number of favourites to begin their races again, or at least to try and balance the clock ahead of the demanding final week of racing in the high mountains. Chief among them is Richie Porte (Sky), who, despite a flawless opening week, now finds himself 17th overall, 5:05 off the maglia rosa after a ruinous puncture and illegal wheel change on stage 10 and a crash in the finale of stage 13. The Australian began the Giro with this stage pencilled as the place where he might seize pink. Now, it is his final chance to resuscitate a flagging podium challenge.ADVERTISEMENT Seemingly cast overboard on the road to San Giorgio del Sannio on stage 9, Rigoberto Urn (Etixx-QuickStep) has quietly steadied the ship in week two " a crash at Imola notwithstanding " and he somehow begins Saturdays Prosecco time trial in 6th place overall, 2:02 off the lead. If he can uncork the kind of vintage he produced in Barolo a year ago, he could improbably find himself back in the shake-up for pink. Contador conceded his maglia rosa to Fabio Aru (Astana) when he fell in the finale on Friday, but he will surely expect to make up the 19 seconds and reassume the overall lead from the young Sardinian. Of greater concern, perhaps, will be maintaining as much of his healthy buffers over Urn and Porte as possible. In keeping with the tone of this bizarre Giro, Aru finds himself in pink just after enduring his least convincing spell to date, as he showed definite signs of weakness at Imola and again at Monte Berico. From the outset, one sensed that this time trial was about damage limitation for Aru. Now in the maglia rosa, this is a Race of Truth in every sense for the youngster.The course When the Giro route was unveiled last October, it was the sheer length of the Valdobbiadene course that impressed, while closer inspection of the profile suggested a time trial of two " or perhaps even three " parts. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com More...

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