Rider of the week
He came, he saw, he conquered. Ok, maybe not yet, because the Giro d’Italia always is a hectic and crazy affair, but Alberto Contador is very close of winning the Trofeo Senza Fine for the second time in his career, after the 2008 edition, when he came at the start at the last minute and went on to take a hard fought victory. Although he crashed and lost time (as well as the pink jersey) in stage 13, the Spaniard returned at the top one day later in commanding fashion, after what can be described as a very impressive display of power in the individual time trial between Treviso and Valdobbiadene, where all his rivals where put in a striking distance and let to nurse their ego and thus change their objective, after seeing that Contador is out of reach at the moment.
Not only that the Tinkoff-Saxo rider has a great physical level, he is also rock solid when it comes to his confidence, which allows him to land one psychological blow at a time to his opponents. In that matter, he goes for bonifications at intermediate sprints and at the finish, or starts playing with them on the climbs, attacking before slowing the tempo and going at it again, thus reminding everyone of his 2011 form, when he won the Giro with an incredible ease, by more than six minutes (before being stripped of that victory).
It’s true that the hardest week of the race is yet to come – with Aprica, Cervinia and Sestriere on the menu – but what’s frightening for the likes of Fabio Aru and Astana is that Alberto Contador keeps getting better and stronger. On Madonna di Campiglio, although he said that he wants to win in honor of Marco Pantani, the 32-year-old didn’t feel like chasing when Mikel Landa attacked and preferred to keep his forces, but this won’t happen on the next summit finishes, as he wants to cap off what has been an impressive and dominant ride so far with a stage win.
As it goes at the moment, Contador will have no problem in taking the overall win in Milan, which will make him the main favorite for the upcoming Tour de France, even though Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana will be there. Then, later in the season, if he will be victorious also in the Grande Boucle, you can bet on the fact that he’ll line-up at the start of the Vuelta a España, where he’ll be looking for a memorable treble.