Wednesday, May 21, 2008
After the dust had settled on the 10th stage of the Giro, one name stood above all others as the biggest talking point: Alberto Contador. Last year's Tour de France champion blazed the individual time trial course, slotting the best time of the day among the GC contenders. Riding on a fractured elbow, the Spaniard showed why he is so dangerous. An amazing climber capable of quick accelerations on the steepest ramps, Contador also possesses the ability to take time out of his rivals in the time trial discipline. And he did it again at the Giro, alerting the field and the cycling public that he is a contender in this year's Giro, no matter what he or his team say.
Unlike riders like Riccardo Ricco or Gilberto Simoni, who hope to limit their losses in the time trials, Contador uses them to further increase his lead. He'll be tough adversary for the Giro field the rest of the Tour, a will his Astana team. The other two leaders of the team, Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kloden, remain toward the top of the GC battle, as the American is about two minutes behind Contador, and teammate Kloden only a minute. As was predicted, the Astana squad will govern the tactics for the rest of the Giro, with three cards still to play.
Other surprises from stage ten? For positive, look no further than the aforementioned Simoni, who conceded only 54 seconds to Contador, and now sits comfortably in 10th place, only two minutes behind Contador. He'll have a chance if he can make Contador suffer in the high passes. For some, the time trial was decidedly negative. One such rider was Danilo Di Luca, who lost 2:03 to Contador, and now lies about a minute and a half from Contador's time. He is still well within striking distance, but he'll need to ride strong in the mountains to have a chance at the overall.
As usual, a time trial in a grand tour has shuffled the deck and revealed the true contenders of the race. Some are better off than others, but very few of the GC riders are out of the competition. All this and more should make the final week and a half at rhe Giro one of the best in recent memory.