Alberto Contador endured a difficult final day in the mountains at the Giro d’Italia but with the maglia rosa secured before the final parade stage to Milan, he was able to savour his victory during his post-stage press conference in Sestriere.
Fabio Aru (Astana) sat next to Contador for most of the press conference and Contador was happy to praise his young rival, despite Aru and his Astana team having attacked him on virtually every stage of this year’s race.
Contador answered question about his difficult moment on the Colle dell Finestre but denied he was afraid of losing the Giro d’Italia.
He also praised his Tinkoff-Saxo team despite often being alone in the key moments of the race. He also confirmed that he considers his 2015 victory as his third success at the Giro d’Italia, despite his 2011 win being cancelled from the record book because it was counted in the time of his ban for his Clenbuterol positive during the 2010 Tour de France.
Here are the full questions and answers of the press conference.
Question: Have you now won the Giro d’Italia but you afraid today?
Alberto Contador: Bueno. This is a victory that achieved by controlling things well and analysing the situation carefully. I knew that I had a big time gap in my favour was in my favour and I also knew that the final part [of the stage] was not that difficult. I knew that I had a cushion. I didn't have any hunger crisis, and luckily I was able to keep the jersey.
Q: You promised that at the end of the Giro you’d say what Aru should have done in the race if you’d been his age and in his shoes.
AC: Well perhaps in 24 days time we’ll be in the same race again… But seriously, I want to congratulate him. Some days he suffered a lot. Yet he was able to come back and he rode a fantastic end to the Giro. He’s got an incredible future ahead of him but he’s already good. In the bad moments of a race, you have to take advantage against him because he’s so good at recovering and fighting back.
Q: Were you afraid of losing the Giro d'Italia today?
AC: No. I was never afraid losing the Giro. Perhaps it was a self-control mechanism that kicked in. Because when you think you might lose, you need to regain the gap quickly, in a kilometre, but then it can turn in to a big crisis. I did what I had to do on the descent. I pushed a big gear at a good cadence all the way to the finish and so things turned okay.
Q: Was winning the Giro harder than you imagined? After this effort, are you now more optimistic about the Tour de France?
AC: This Giro d'Italia was very demanding but I knew it was going to be very demanding. The mountain finishes weren't steep, which perhaps created the impression that the Giro wasn’t that hard, but we accumulated a lot of fatigue. For example we always chased after the breaks and so it was a fast race. We used a lot of energy, more than I'd have liked. But when I decided to do the Giro and Tour, I knew I'd expend a lot of energy. Now it’s time to rest up as well as possible, starting tonight. I’m already thinking about being as good as possible for the Tour. We’ll see what level I can be at.”
Q: You shown you’re very strong but it’s perhaps right to say you won alone against a very strong Astana team. Which of your teammates will you take to the Tour de France?
AC: When I have teammates who give 100 per cent for me, and work the way they have at training camps before the Giro d'Italia and the Tour, I can only say thanks to them three times. Without them I wouldn’t have this [pink] jersey. There were moments when I went mano a mano with the Astana riders but you have to understand that the Astana team was at a superior level to everyone else. When we were in a group of 10 riders, five were from Astana, in a group of eight, there were four of them. In this Giro d'Italia. I can only say thanks to my team, and whatever things may have looked like from the outside, without my team I wouldn't have this jersey.
Q: You’ve always looked very strong on the climb but what kind of crisis did you have today?
AC: It was a hydration crisis. It sounds like I’m lying because it didn't seem hot but this morning my weight was a bit down after yesterday's stage. I didn't give it much importance but perhaps I didn't drink as much as I should. I think it was that, not hunger knock.
Q: There was a lot of support for you when you were suffering on the Finestre, what did you think of that? Also what vote [mark of 10] would you give Fabio Aru?
AC: The public really cheered me on and I can only thank them for their support. I have to say that I won the Giro for them, not for my own palmares. That's why I'm here in Italy and that’s why I rode the Giro.
As for Fabio, I have to give him 10 out of 10. He had some difficult moments, some crisis when he suffered incredibly. But he bounced back to finish second, win two stages and the best young rider prize. What more could you ask for?
Q: You seemed a much more mature rider than in other races. The way you managed the race was important. But there seemed to be a grudge between you and Landa, you seemed to be racing against each other, even today. Is that true?
AC: Well on my part, there’s absolutely no resentment against Landa. The first day when he won, we were talking at the start about the time trial when I passed him, and he wasn’t angry. As for the Mortirolo stage, I think everyone can draw their own conclusions about what happened.
As for the following day, at Verbania, from my point of view, it was a completely different day to the Mortirolo day. On the day of the Mortirolo, when I punctured, they attacked. But at Verbania we were already pulling at the head of the race. They did what they had to do. He [Landa] was closest to me in the classification.
I decide my own tactics and I think they were good, they allowed me to win. I tried to waste as little energy as possible so an argument with Landa wasn't something I could allow myself to get involved in. Indeed, I'm happy for him and for Spanish cycling. He’s riding well and he’s on the way again. That’s good. There’s no kind of resentment from me.
Q: On the podium you held up three fingers, do you believe you’ve won the Giro d’Italia three times?
AC: For me, I think I’ve won the Giro d'Italia three times. I think all the people who have watched that race  on television and all the riders who raced against me, know I think I’ve won the Giro three times.