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Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) tried to let Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervelo) take the maglia rosa on the rolling roads to Castelfidardo in the Giro d'Italia but with other teams trying to win the stage, and perhaps even keep him in pink and so under pressure, he was again obliged to use up precious recover time to attend the podium ceremony and consequent obligatory press conference.
Contador was fined 1000 Swiss francs after failing to attend Tuesday's press conference but decided it was not work losing another chunk of prize money today. He apologized to the media but seemed almost disappointed to be in pink for another day. Not because of a lack of respect for the maglia rosa but because of the importance of rest and recovery between each stage.
"It is possible that the Giro could be won in the hotel," he said.
Contador finished fifth in Castelfidardo and conceded it had been a tough day in the hilly Marche region.
"I was in a good position on the climb to the finish and waited for Scarponi to attack. But then Joaquim (Rodriguez) attacked. But my legs responded well."
"It was a hard stage today. We knew that everyone would have been looking to get in the break and we would have been happy to let Le Mevel take the jersey. But the other teams had other interests and they did the work for us. I'm proud to wear the maglia rosa and to lead the race but if you think calmly, its probably better not to have it now. What counts is to be leader on May 29 in Milan."
Not interested in his palmares
Contador denied that he had become the boss of the Giro after his dominant display on Mount Etna. Eddy Merckx has joined the Giro and is a regular guest on Italian television...
Frenchmans sets his sights on top-10 GC finish
John Gadret (AG2R La Mondiale) jumped at the perfect time in the taxing finale of the Giro d'Italia's 11th stage to earn his first Grand Tour stage victory. Gadret has parlayed his climbing talents into nine top-ten stage finishes in his three Giro appearances, but today the punchy Frenchman crossed the line first.
"In the finale, I felt I had good legs," Gadret said. "I had the team at my service. They put me in the best position at the bottom of the climb. Rinaldo Nocentini looked after me to perfection.
"When I saw the two leaders [Ignatas Konovalovas and Daniel Moreno] 12 seconds ahead of us, I realised they were slowing. As soon as the other riders slowed down at the front of the bunch with 300 metres to go, I jumped and I told myself that I would look behind only once I passed the finish line. I'm very happy, this is the most beautiful win in my career."
Gadret is best known for his acumen as a cyclo-cross rider and it's no surprise to see him performing well on gravelled and steep roads. With his weight a svelte 58 kilos, it explains why he finished so well at the 2010 Giro d'Italia in the uphill time trial on the gravelled roads of Plan de Corones where he scored the third best time.
Earlier this Giro, Gadret was away on stage 5 to Orvieto on the strade bianche of Tuscany. "Had Pieter Weening kept me with him till the end, I probably would have won that stage with the hill in Orvieto," he said. "But I don't want to look back, especially today after this win.
"It's not because I've won today that my Giro is over," he told...
Italian misses out in Castelfidardo
Michele Scarponi's fan club had set up camp just four hundred metres from the finish in Castelfidardo, perhaps hoping the Lampre-ISD team leader would win the uphill finish and so give them something to celebrate and down a flew glasses of wine.
Scarponi comes from Filottrano, just a few kilometres deeper into the Marche hills and was hoping to win the stage for his tifosi and also to boost his moral after being unable to stay with Alberto Contador on the climb to Mount Etna.
John Gadret (AG2R-La Mondiale) spoilt Scarponi's party by jumping away with a kilometre to go, taking the big name overall contenders by surprise. The Frenchman got a gap and held off the rest of the peloton, giving him time to celebrate the biggest win of his career.
Scarponi finished a disappointing eighth and remains fifth overall, 1:28 behind Contador.
"It's a pity not to get a good result because it would have been nice to give everyone at the finish something to celebrate. We tried to be in the action and worked to bring the race back together but only ended up using a lot of energy," he admitted.
"The finish was uphill but it was also pretty fast and so I wasn't able to finish off the work of the team. Well done to Gadret. He surprised us all with his attack and won it well."
Scarponi dismissed a question by Italian television if he was still an overall contender in the Giro with a wave of his hand and preferred to focus on the strength of the Lampre-ISD team. Alessandro Petacchi again did a huge turn on the front to close the gap on the breakaway despite knowing he faces his last chance to win a sprint stage in Ravenna on Thursday.
Scarponi was grateful.
"Alessandro is a champion and is riding really strong,...
Millar praises the Frenchman's "character" and "panache"
Christophe Le Mével had been the virtual pink jersey of the Giro d'Italia for a long time before being brought back by the group of the favourites towards the very end of stage 11. He was extremely disappointed to have missed out on taking the lead in Castelfidardo, while his team-mate David Millar was full of praise for his courageous action.
"The pink jersey doesn't want me!" the climber from Garmin-Cervélo repeated a few times on the finishing line. "I love this jersey; I wanted to honour it as much as I could. After the stage on the Etna, I thought it wasn't possible to get it anymore because I was too close and they wouldn't let someone who is third on GC breaking away. But at the start of today's stage, I spoke with Richie Porte and he told me that Saxo Bank wouldn't do anything to keep the pink jersey, so I was most welcome to go and look for it. However, it was more of an instinctive move that propelled me to the front group."
"I've given a lot," the Frenchman continued, "and what do I get at the end? I lose 13 seconds because of a split in the bunch. Despite all the efforts I produced earlier on, I still went deep at the end to avoid this split but it was really at the max. When the favourites accelerated with 500 metres to go, I exploded. That's life. I've dreamt and believed that I'd get the pink jersey but Saxo Bank isn't the only team in this race. A lot of teams rode behind us with different interests."
Successively, Androni Giocattoli-C.I.P.I. and Lampre-ISD put an end to Le Mével's dream in pink. "Now it's finished," the Breton rider sadi regretfully. "This is not the year I'll lead the Giro. I have good legs but I'm...
Cyclingnews takes a ride up Sierra Road with Continental team
The Amgen Tour of California stage 4 to San Jose's Sierra Road climb saw the peloton come to pieces behind the furious pace of the RadioShack team on the final ascent.
Cyclingnews was in the Bissell Pro Cycling team car with director Omer Kem, giving encouragement to Chris Baldwin as he was on his way to a 31st place finish on the stage, just 4:30 behind stage winner Chris Horner.
The team had a successful day, with both Ben Jacques-Maynes and Jeremy Vennell in the breakaway and Rob Britton as the top Continental team finisher on the stage.
This video gives a unique view of the riders who usually don't make the television coverage.