By Gregor Brown in Carpi
Tour de France champion Alberto Contador was impressed by the moves of rivals Riccardo Riccò and Danilo Di Luca in Giro d'Italia stage 11 to Cesena. The 25 year-old Spaniard responded well to the attacks of his rivals, who seemed to be joining forces, and ended the day in control.
"They were going strong and fast, they were trying to make a difference," Contador noted to Cyclingnews Thursday morning, before the start of stage 12. The Spaniard whose Astana team was invited at the last minute, leaving little room for preparation for a Grand Tour, has ridden well despite having a cracked elbow. He took second on Monday's time trial, putting important time between himself and his rivals, and was able to follow their attacks on the hills on Wednesday. He is now third in the overall standings and ranked highest of all the classification favourites.
The stage to Cesena was made even more difficult by heavy intermittent rain showers. Contador was impressed with the stage that on the map – he observed – did not seem that difficult.
He, like his rivals, is resting in the following two sprint stage – Carpi and Cittadella – to be ready for the three mountain stages that follow, but has been suffering from a toothache, although he says it's nothing serious.
"In the last week I have been there," he noted with added confidence, thanks to his storming time trial stage in Urbino. "I hope my legs don't give me any problems."