Not so much an attack as a fact-finding mission. Having spent most of stage 11 of the Giro d'Italia sitting within touching distance of Astana's Fabio Aru, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) decided to test the Sardinian’s mettle on the final ascent of the Tre Monti, 8km from the finish at the motor-racing circuit in Imola.
It was Contador’s second telling attack at this Giro. The first time he went on the offensive, at Abetone a week ago, Aru had moved swiftly onto his wheel and responded impetuously with a rasping acceleration of his own.
Contador was diplomatic, meanwhile, when pressed on the idea that Sky and Orica-GreenEdge had been combining in support of Porte throughout the Giro - remembering, perhaps, that he has been able to call in favours of his own over the years, and indeed at this very race.
"They're two different teams," Contador said. "There are always people who are more sympathetic to you, that's normal, but they're two different teams."