Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) lost more time to Alberto Contador at the end of the toughest mountain stage of the Giro d'Italia to Gardeccia but was proud of his performance in the heart of the Dolomites after attacking on the descent of Passo Giau and then fighting all the way to the finish of the 229km stage.
Nibali opened a gap of 30 seconds on the technical descent, carving perfect lines through the many hairpins corners but then eased up at the start of the Passo Fedaia. Contador soon attacked to get rid of him on the long, steep sector of the Passo Fedaia but Nibali again used his demon descending kills to get back on. He even had the nerve to attack on the valley road before the climb up to finish at Gardeccia.
He slipped to third behind Scarponi and is 5:11 behind Contador, but was proud to have put up a fight.
"I attacked to try and do something on the biggest and most prestigious mountain stage of the Giro. I wasn't racing for second place but for first place," he said defiantly.
"I attacked Contador to try and tire him but he had help from Lastras (Movistar) because I think Arroyo wanted to try and win the stage.
"When I was caught I suffered on the Fedaia but I knew the descent was difficult and that I could get back on again. When I caught them at the bottom I think they were stunned because they rode hard to stop me getting back. They were disappointed to see me again but I dug deep on the climb to the finish and I'm proud I was still there."
Nibali's attack was audacious but he explained that it was also calculated.
"My consistency and endurance paid off. I honestly didn't have the legs I had yesterday but I tried to stay with Scarponi on the final climb," he said.
"I made sure I ate well all day, so I was pretty sure I wouldn't blow. The stage was long, hard and cold and so I also knew the others would fade too during the stage. That's what happened. It didn't work out as perhaps we hoped but I was still up there. So I'm happy with my ride."