Alberto Contador may not win Tirreno-Adriatico but he revealed that taking on Chris Froome in Italy has given him vital insight on how Team Sky performs in stage races. It is information that could prove vital when he faces Team Sky's calculated and clinical way of racing in July at the Tour de France.
Contador has been forced to go on the attack and even after time bonuses but has been out gunned by Froome and the work of his teammates Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Uran.
Contador got the better of Froome in last year's Vuelta Espana, but did not ride the 2012 Tour de France because he was still serving his ban for doping. Now he is able to watch close up, how the British team imposes their calculations and carefully planned tactics.
"Whatever the final result, this race has been really useful for me because I'd only ever seen how Sky work on television, never in person," he revealed after pulling on the red points jersey.
"I'd never seen it from on the bike and seen the numbers on the SRM. I think in some ways this will help me to plan the tactics for the Tour."
Contador will have to produce something special to beat Froome at the Tour de France and at Tirreno-Adriatico.
He pulled back seven seconds thanks to winning the late intermediate sprint placed 4.6km from the finish and then by taking third on the stage in Chieti behind Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Bauke Mollema (Blanco Pro Cycling Team). Yet he is still 20 seconds behind Froome on the general classification after losing 22 seconds at Prati di Tivo.
"I'd hope to perhaps impose the race in a different way but yesterday was not my best day," he admitted.
"If the race had gone differently, maybe we could have more options now. But tomorrow will be another day, and then there's the time trial. Every second is important, even the time bonuses."
Contador hinted he will chase more seconds during Sunday's hilly stage, knowing that every second could count and make the difference between second and third and even first and second.
"The goal tomorrow is to earns as much (time) as possible," he said, coming up with his own simple and logical strategy.
"Tuesday will be an important day too because you have to do well regardless of the general classification. The time differences are very small but the time trial is very short, so everything could be decided in a second, one way or the other."