Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) was expected to gain a few seconds and strike a psychological blow on his overall rivals in the opening Tirreno-Adriatico time trial but after the intense 5.4km effort, the Spaniard stopped the clock in a time of 6:23, well behind the 6:04 set by winner Adriano Malori (Movistar), eight seconds slower than Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and nine behind Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep). Contador was two seconds faster than Nairo Quintana (Movistar) but lost six seconds to Thibaut Pinot (FDJ).
Bjarne Riis’ disappointment was easy to see and he confirmed to Cyclingnews that Contador had a bad day.
“He wasn’t on it today, he was the worst of the lot going through the corners,” the Tinkoff-Saxo team manager admitted, refusing to reveal any specific reason for his below par performance.
After warming down on the rollers outside the Tinkoff-Saxo team bus, Contador admitted he had a bad day.
“I would have liked to have done better, but some days you have good legs, and others you don’t,” Contador told Cyclingnews.
“Right from the start, I couldn’t find my rhythm. At the end of the day, it’s only 5km, and I lost some time to Uran and Nibali, but I hope I can recover those seconds.”
Contador insisted that he wasn’t surprised by Nibali’s good performance.
“No, we know that Nibali is a great rider,” he said. “His form will be growing, and he will be one of the top favourites to win the race. Sure, eight seconds count, especially in races like Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice, so they are very valuable, we’ll see if there’s a chance to gain them back.”
The overall battle for Tirreno-Adriatico is expected to be decided on Sunday’s mountain finish on Terminillo. However the final 10km time trial could also prove to be important considering today’s time gaps.
Contador is hoping for a better performance on the 16km climb but did not seem optimistic.
“Let’s hope so,” he said. “But Terminillo is still a few days away, so we have to go day-to-day, and we’ll see what the final result ends up to be.”