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Di Luca surprised by Contador

Danilo Di Luca (LPR)

Danilo Di Luca (LPR) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Defending champion looks to make difference in mountain stages

By Gregor Brown in Urbino, Italy

Defending Giro d'Italia champion Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes) was surprised by the strength of Tour de France champion Alberto Contador (Astana) on yesterday's Giro d'Italia time trial. The Spaniard managed the second best time over the 39.4 kilometre time trial, just eight seconds behind stage winner Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre).

Contador has stated that his intentions are not to win the overall of the Giro. The Spanish rider raced yesterday's stage with a fractured elbow, which was revealed in x-rays on Monday's rest day.

"Contador surprised me more than [Gilberto] Simoni, however he went well too," Di Luca said. "Simoni went strong today and it is clear he did not pay from [Monday's] day off the bike."

Di Luca plans to utilise his LPR Brakes team to make Contador's life difficult in the coming two weeks, before the race concludes in Milano, June 1. "We will have to attack Contador, definitely," he said. "I will need to take back the advantage from him."

Di Luca pointed towards this weekend's stages, Stage 14 to Alpe di Pampeago and Stage 15 to Marmolada, as a possible time to launch his attack. "There will be a lot of [time] gaps From Saturday forward," he said. "I think Sunday's stage to Marmolada will be the most important."

The 32 year-old from Pescara finished 19th in Tuesday's Stage 10 time trail. Di Luca lost precious time to key overall rivals on the stage, including 2'03" to Alberto Contador, 1'51" to Andreas Klöden and 1'09" to Gilberto Simoni.

"I was going well on the flats, but on the climbs I could have gone better," Di Luca said following the test from Pesaro to Umbria, in Italy's Le Marche.

"This time trial did not make a difference, we are all still there," he said. "This does not change anything."

Today's stage concludes with a very demanding test to Cesena. Though the stage is not a high mountain run, Di Luca will stay alert. "It could make some difference and will be interesting," he said. "The climbers were saved today, even if I could have done better, but - I repeat - 40 or 50 seconds here won't change much."

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