Surprises in the mountains

Contador hangs tough, but gauntlets are down By Bjorn Haake Three long days in the mountains have...

Contador hangs tough, but gauntlets are down

By Bjorn Haake

Three long days in the mountains have left their mark on the racers, and several surprises have surfaced. Last year's winner Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes) started to show signs of weakness, with Alberto Contador (Astana) taking the maglia rosa of race leader. The Spaniard wasn't dominating the mountain stages, as some had feared, following his performance in last year's Tour de France. But he hung tough when the others threw down the attacks, with youngster Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval - Scott) looking to be in the best position to seriously challenge Contador, with his gap of only 41 seconds.

Then there was the amazing performance by CSF Navigare, with their new emerging climbing star, Emanuele Sella grabbing the headlines. They started out quietly, with a lacklustre performance in the team time trial, but improved to a stage win via its sprinter, Matteo Priamo.

When the mountains started for real, the green team was on the front in force. And quickly, Sella made it clear that he preferred the green jersey for the best climber in the Giro over the similar-coloured team outfit. Three amazing performances and two stage wins and a second place later, he looked solid in the mountains classification. Especially on the rainy day up to the Passo Fedaia/Marmolada the team was incredible, with Fortunato Baliani, Mexican Julio Pérez and Domenico Pozzovivo providing excellent assistance to Sella.

Of note was also the unexpected performance of Belgian Jurgen Van Den Broeck. The Silence - Lotto rider showed his climbing prowess and impressed in both weekend stages, staying with the climbing masters and producing a solid time trial to the Plan de Corones. The move to Italy had paid off, as he could get some good vertical training in.

Read the full rest day wrap-up.

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