Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) tried desperately to gain enough time to move ahead of Italian rival Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) in the final time trial of the Giro d'Italia but was forced to accept another third place overall on the final podium in Milan.
The young Sicilian secured third place, ahead of Scarponi last year, but had too much of a deficit to make up this time on the streets of Milan.
"Any chance of second place disappeared after I reached the finish in Milan. But I'm still satisfied with third place," Nibali said.
"Last year I managed to edge out Scarponi for the third place on the podium but this year he got the better of me. But this is my third grand tour podium in just 12 months and so I'm satisfied. Winning the Vuelta was a great moment and I was a real peak of my form but this year I was under more pressure and that's never easy."
Learning for the future
With Basso focusing on the Tour de France this year, Nibali was the designated team leader for Liquigas-Cannondale and forced to shoulder the pressure from the team and the Italian media.
He admitted he made some mistakes during the three weeks of the Giro but insisted he has learnt from them and will return to the Giro in 2012.
"I think I handled it well and I've learnt a lot for the future," he said.
"I've learnt where I perhaps made a few mistakes but also learnt where I can improve and do better in the future. I'm 26 and so I've got to use this year's race to do even better in the future. Cycling is about understanding your limits and ability and when to use what you have. There were a couple of days when I was a little weaker than I'd hoped: on the long stage to Gardeccia and then in the finale to Sestriere. For 2012 I hope to improve on those two difficult moments."
Contador and Scarponi were locked in an often tense battle during the final week. They attacked each other on the road and were under pressure to secure second place. However Nibali sportingly accepted defeat and insisted the two Italians are friends when not racing against each other.
"We congratulated each other after the race and get on well. There's no problems between us," he insisted.
"We often shared a joke together during the early part of the stages. We've been fierce rivals at the Giro but only out on the road. Now we can both look back and be proud of how we rode in this Giro. At least until we clash at next year's race."