Richie Porte (Team Sky) regretted spending too much time at the head of the peloton in the final kilometre of the mountain stage of Tirreno-Adriatico but insisted that the Race of the Two Seas' is far from over.
The Tasmanian made several long surges on the front of the select group as the finish approached, trying to distance his weaker rivals. The surges put race leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) into the red and left him swinging on and off the back, but also set up Contador for his late attack.
Porte finished fifth on the stage, at five seconds, moving up to fourth overall at 34 seconds behind Kwiatkowski.
"It was a hard, really hard stage," he said as he pulled on layers of warm clothing for the descent to the team bus, 14km back down the Apennine valley.
"I know it wasn't a great idea to ride at the front but you never know, you might slip away if they are riding cat and mouse. I'm not too unhappy with how it panned out. I think I was up there with the top guys and tomorrow's another day."
Porte praised Bradley Wiggins and Mikel Nieve for helping in the valley and then on the climb. He was also genuinely pleased to see Contador back to his best, even if it will cause him and his Team Sky teammates some problems at the Tour de France.
"Brad was great today, pulling on the front for me in the valley. He's obviously on the way back up," he pointed out.
"It's good for the cycling fans to see him (Contador) winning again. This year, maybe he can take it up to Froome a little bit more than he did last year. Now we are all going to be watching Alberto and seeing how he goes tomorrow, too."
Despite Kwiatkowski holding onto the race leader's blue jersey, passing a major test of his ability after almost seven hours of racing, Porte predicted that this year's Tirreno-Adriatico has not been decided.
"We'll see. There's still a time trial and a really hard stage to come tomorrow. It's not over yet."