Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) stopped to pull on an extra jersey after crossing the finish at Terminillo and was clearly frustrated to have seen Nairo Quintana (Movistar) attack alone to win the stage and set up overall victory at Tirreno-Adriatico. While Quintana and a new generation of riders packed the results, Contador looked fatigued and defeated.
Contador was the big favourite for the expected showdown in the Italian Apennines after showing some good form at the Ruta del Sol and training at altitude. Yet his poor opening time trial indicated that he was not at his very best. That was clear to see on the constant climb to the finish at Terminillo. Contador likes to dance on the pedals far more than other riders but he seemed over-geared on the climb. His Tinkoff-Saxo team also seemed weaker than expected, with only Roman Kreuziger there to help him in the finale after Ivan Basso blew up after an early turn on the front.
When Quintana made his move with five kilometres to go, Contador was unable to match the Colombian’s sudden and very strong attack. He tried to chase but did not have the same power and speed. He was then left frustrated as other riders chased down his long series of accelerations and even attacked him. Their stop-and-go racing allowed Quintana to gain 55 seconds in five kilometres and so set up overall victory at Tirreno-Adriatico. Contador will have to fight with Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) if he wants a place on the final podium on Tuesday.
“I was behind when Quintana attacked, and he set a very fast rhythm, and I couldn’t close him down,” Contador conceded to the journalists who huddled around him as the snow fell heavily. “I was hoping for better, and I couldn’t be up there higher like I wanted.”
Contador did not look for excuses or complain about his Tinkoff-Saxo team having to take control of the race on the climb.
“We’re used to the responsibility, so that’s nothing new. I am not going to make any excuses,” he said. “It was a complicated (difficult) stage for us. Yesterday was a tough day due to my crash. Today, we performed quite well overall even though in the end we didn't finish further ahead. Unfortunately everybody had eyes on me today and I was unable to do much more, as nobody wanted to pull at the front with me.”
With that Contador pushed his way off and through the crowds to ride to the Tinkoff-Saxo team bus. His hopes of victory at Tirreno-Adriatico had been left buried under the snow on Terminillo.
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