Contador on the Mortirolo was a ride of biblical proportions

'...like Noah directing the animals as they came in two-by-two'

Now what's the Russian for 'don't kick a good man when he's down'?

At least Alberto Contador doesn't have to look too far to find out as Oleg Tinkov will know and he'll probably add a few choice words to the basic translation. That's the great thing about the multi-cultural peloton these days, the opportunities for an education are wide and varied.

And as is the way when communicating your feelings in competitive circumstances the least polite and most appropriate terms are the first you pick up. I was lucky to have learned a couple of expletive Soviet phrases from Dimitri Konyshev when were at TVM together and I carefully stored them away for the appropriate moment and a surprised recipient.

I suspect my teacher heard a few of them directed his way on the road to Aprica after Yuri Trofimov's and Katusha's tactics in the vicinity of the Mortirolo. Conduct that will have will definitely not have won them any friends.

Anyone doubting the Giro was a foregone conclusion with Contador back in the pink would have been wondering what fury had been unleashed on stage 16.

It's somewhat ironic for Tinkov that it was his compatriots over at Katusha who tried landing a low blow to Contador's Giro with the sneakiest of sneaky moves, attacking after the Spaniard punctured. The excuse that they didn't know what had happened to the maglia rosa seems very unlikely given that Contador would have been riding near the front on the descent after the first passage at Aprica, but that's Dimi's story and he's sticking to it.

Much more telling is Mikel Landa's statement that Astana did the dirty when they had the chance. No political maneuvers with that explanation then. There's certainly not much love for the race leader from Astana but maybe there's still a nasty aftertaste from the 2010 contract fiasco when he wanted to leave and they insisted he see out his term. Anyway all the talk of who didn't mean to ride, or did ride - and therefore break one of the unwritten rules - is fairly irrelevant because didn't we see a similar attack on Andy Schleck by one Alberto Contador during the 2010 Tour de France?

Whether it was karma or mischievous intent we were treated to a real race - a proper old school, to the death, battle between the favourites and all the contenders found themselves caught up in it too. It was truly excellent. I don't think I've seen a better spectacle than the Mortirolo stage in the last five years.

The only day remotely comparable was Contador's stage 17 of the 2012 Vuelta when he destroyed Joaquim Rodriguez. That was another of the epic days when the race was seemingly being directed by Noah and at the end the surviving animals come in two by two. In fact Conador's control of the Mortirolo situation was way more impressive. The physical aspect of his ride was great but his mental strength not to panic, use his teammates and then set about rejoining Landa and Fabio Aru was very impressive, and very calculated.

Then for him to see off a slightly vulnerable Aru bordered on it becoming an exhibition of why you shouldn't play rough unless you can take the punches, especially the low ones.

The signs that Aru was tiring were there before the rest day but now we know it's beginning to hurt and his having to ride most of the last 40km on his own to Aprica will take a lot from his reserves. I don't think we'll see him making a comeback before Sunday but then what do I know? I thought Giuseppe Martinelli would stand by his man and Mikel Landa would be sacrificed to keep some Italian interests. I was wrong and now a mortified Aru has to worry about Amador and maybe Steven Kruijswijk coming for him.

Another rider I was wrong about was Ryder Hesjedal. He was in the right place for once so maybe he ought to be in the break on every mountain stage. He might not survive with the big accelerations from the favourites but he knows all about suffering and when they catch him they are as worn out as Ryder always looks.

Now with the Giro apparently sewn up all Alberto Contador has to do is save as much energy as possible for July and the Tour de France. I say apparently as this Giro has been spectacularly entertaining and there are still three mountainous stages to come. Dimi and Trofimov may have some more moves to make.

Related Articles

Back to top