By Gregor Brown in Locarno, Switzerland
Spain's Alberto Contador continued his ride in the maglia rosa of Giro d'Italia race leader Wednesday, his second day in the pink top. The Astana rider is ready for the Mortirolo, which he previewed the previous day as part of the race's second and last rest day.
Wednesday's stage from Sondrio to Locarno, Switzerland – 146 kilometres – was marked by an escape before ending in a bunch sprint. It was a perfect day for Contador to recover from the Dolomite stages from the weekend.
"It was a tranquilo day," stated the 25 year-old from Madrid, following the stage. "It started fast with the escapes and the final sprint. The last kilometres it was somewhat dangerous, I had to be in a good position [up front] not to lose time – sin problemas.
"We've had two days of pretty good recovery."
Contador previewed the steep, 12.8-kilometre Mortirolo on the rest day. It is the last significant climb in the Giro d'Italia and comes 49.2 kilometres from the end of stage 20.
"Yesterday [Tuesday - ed.] we went with the car – 250 kilometres – to see the Gavia. They [work crew] were putting in asphalt, so I couldn't see it. I saw the entire Mortirolo and it's incredible... It's going to be amazing with the fans lining the road – it will put your hair on end."
Typically, in a Grand Tour riders and teams start defending their positions as the races draws to its end. Contador will likely have this aspect to his advantage.
"Every rider will defend their interests – they can speak among themselves," he continued, dismissing any alliances. "Di Luca doesn't want Riccò to win; vice versa... everyone will have to play their cards.
"Simoni – he has been the most regular, experienced, solid, very strong. A climb like Mortirolo, he knows it well – he can do a lot of damage. Riccò is dangerous, but he doesn't have the same depth and experience as Simoni, so he's who we have to watch more... surely he's thinking about it a lot."
What is the likelihood we will see Contador in pink when the race ends in Milano, June 1? "I don't like to put percentages," he responded.