Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) tried to let Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervelo) take the maglia rosa on the rolling roads to Castelfidardo in the Giro d'Italia but with other teams trying to win the stage, and perhaps even keep him in pink and so under pressure, he was again obliged to use up precious recover time to attend the podium ceremony and consequent obligatory press conference.
Contador was fined 1000 Swiss francs after failing to attend Tuesday's press conference but decided it was not work losing another chunk of prize money today. He apologized to the media but seemed almost disappointed to be in pink for another day. Not because of a lack of respect for the maglia rosa but because of the importance of rest and recovery between each stage.
"It is possible that the Giro could be won in the hotel," he said.
Contador finished fifth in Castelfidardo and conceded it had been a tough day in the hilly Marche region.
"I was in a good position on the climb to the finish and waited for Scarponi to attack. But then Joaquim (Rodriguez) attacked. But my legs responded well."
"It was a hard stage today. We knew that everyone would have been looking to get in the break and we would have been happy to let Le Mevel take the jersey. But the other teams had other interests and they did the work for us. I'm proud to wear the maglia rosa and to lead the race but if you think calmly, its probably better not to have it now. What counts is to be leader on May 29 in Milan."
Not interested in his palmares
Contador denied that he had become the boss of the Giro after his dominant display on Mount Etna. Eddy Merckx has joined the Giro and is a regular guest on Italian television after each stage. But Contador refuted the idea that he was thinking about his place in cycling history amongst the multiple grand tour winners such as Merckx, Indurain or Pantani.
"It was an improvised attack and I wanted to see how I was going. There are occasions that I have to take advantage of during the race and Etna was one of them. My legs responded well and winning on Mount Etna on Sunday was incredible. It's something I'll always remember.
Anyway, It's always good to be ahead."
"I race for the fans, for my team and I give it everything because that's what I want to do. I'm not interested in having a historic palmares or not."
Contador was seen talking to David Millar and Murilo Fischer from Garmin-Cervelo as Le Mevel tried to keep the breakaway alive. Contador didn't perhaps realise he'd been caught on camera and let out a smile, before making a promise not to defend the maglia rosa during Thursday's flat stage from Castelfidardo to Ravenna.
"Every team has their interests in the finale of a stage, there were teams interested in winning the stage and so they did the chase. I would have left the jersey to Le Mevel but it didn’t happen. But from now on we won't pull a metre to keep it."
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.