Contador climbs to stage victory and into overall lead

Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) demonstrated why he's the favourite for this year's Giro d'Italia crown with victory atop Mount Etna on an afternoon where the contenders for overall honours came out to play on the day's final climb, which proved to be a decisive test of their mettle.

Contador took the stage and the maglia rosa - which he won in the 2008 edition of this race - in stunning style with a stinging attack at 6.7km remaining in the 169km stage. He eventually put 50 seconds into his rivals by the summit finish atop one of the world's most active volcanoes.

It was reminiscent of his attack to Andorra-Arcalis in stage seven of the 2009 Tour de France - the edition of which he eventually won in Paris two weeks later - and the venom of his move must surely have the big names for the Giro title worried.

"I felt good today and my legs were good, so I had to try something," said Contador after the finish. "I only had one doubt because there was a lot of wind but I kept going. Scarponi came with me at the start, but he faded and I just carried on."

"I didn't want to prove anything to anybody. I just wanted to win. I just wanted to give something back to the public along the roadside for all the support they've shown me.

"I ride to take advantage of the race situation. I like racing. When I've got the legs I take all the opportunities I can. It wasn't a long stage, but I think it was a spectacular stage for everyone to watch."

And the riders listed as favourites before the start of the Giro in Turin - Vincenzo Nibali, Roman Kreuziger, Michele Scarponi and Stefano Garzelli - couldn't respond to the Spaniard's move and now find themselves on the back foot heading into the event's second week, and it only gets more difficult from here.

"I'm disappointed but it's normal to be disappointed," said Scarponi afterwards. "Contador gave us all a lesson today. I tried to follow him but I went into the red hoping the climb wasn't too steep and that I'd recover. But he went again and after that it was really difficult for me.

Regardless, Contador's rivals remain optimisitic and know the Giro isn't over yet; even the Spaniard himself admitted as much and was pleased he could take advantage of the opportunity he was presented to take time on the overall standings and reap the fruits of his move.

"The Giro isn't over though. He won an important battle, and it landed a big blow but the race goes on," said Scarponi.

"Contador was the favourite to win the Giro at the start and he proved he's strongest today. But I won't give up. We'll rest up tomorrow and then we'll see what happens. But there's a still along way to race."

Nibali also gave Contador his dues and admitted that his companions behind made the mistakes for which they eventually paid. "Contador showed he's got an extra gear when he went," he said.

"He was almost impossible to go after - Scarponi tried but he paid for it. We rode steady and then went hard near the finish but Contador had already gotten a gap."

A quality move to take on the volcano

Following a "false start" of sorts to find the day's break, eventually a nine-man move made it clear and rode off the front of the peloton after 50km of racing.

Maglia rosa aspirant and wearer in 2008, Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli), was joined by Yaroslav Popovych (Team RadioShack), Mickaël Chérel (AG2R La Mondiale), Jan Bakelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Alessandro Vanotti (Liquigas-Cannondale), Pablo Lastras Garcia (Movistar Team), Filippo Savini (Colnago - CSF Inox), former stage winner Mathias Frank (BMC Racing Team) and another former Giro stage victor Joan Horrach Rippoll (Katusha) in the move.

Having gained a maximum advantage of around five minutes the inevitable chase began in earnest and just as it seemed the break's number was up and the gap was on its way down, it shot from 3:32 back up to 4:27 with 28km until the finish.

In five kilometers that advantage had been cut by a minute, although with 20km left to race the escapees had more than three minutes over the peloton - the harder slopes of Etna beckoned however, and the men in the break knew it.

And it had the expected effect as the break's advantage dipped under three minutes with 18km until the summit of the volcanic climb. It spurred its members to try and get away solo and eventually Popovych, Savini, Chérel, Vanotti and Horrach exited a dietro.

With Llastras, Visconti, Frank and Bakelandts formed a leading quartet and held a lead of 2:30 with 13km to race. The Belgian contingent of the move thought he could emulate teammate Bart De Clercq's heroics of Friday and go it alone.

The only problem was Visconti and Frank decided to follow, dropping Llastras and making it a threesome up front. Approaching the final 10km of the 169km journey, two minutes separated these three from the bunch, where the likes of Contador, Kreuziger, Nibali, Garzelli and Scarponi were foxing with their remaining teammates.

With the shadow boxing going on up front, the real eruption was to take place in the main group as maglia rosa Pieter Weening blew on the slopes of Etna and said "bye bye" as the big names said "vai vai" in pursuit of the plucky three escapees who remained at the head of proceedings.

José Rujano thought that might be a suitable time to launch a stinging attack, setting off muy rapido a solo from the pack in a style reminiscent of his breakthrough performance at this race in 2005.

Meanwhile, at the front of the race, Bakelandts was at it again, this time shaking his breakaway companions and holding an advantage of 52 seconds with seven clicks to the finish. Surely it was only a matter of time

Time to step up to the plate, Alberto

Just as it seemed Bakelandts had found his groove off the front, Contador hit the gas with 6.7km remaining in the stage, dragging Scarponi with him, as Garzelli, Nibali, Kreuziger and the rest of the hitherto favourites' bunch tried to minimize the damage. In reality it was a race of two - the all-conquering Spaniard and the Italian veteran going mano-a-mano on the slopes of the volcano.

But that two-man act didn't last for long - a damaged Scarponi raised the white flag and receded to the safety of the bunch behind while Contador continued on unabated, negating both Rujano's and Bakelandts' attempted solo strikes and providing a shelter for the Venezuelan over the remaining five kilometers.

In the space of 1,500 meters, the reigning Tour de France champion showed why he is such by closing down the gap between himself and the leading rider in the manner with which we've become accustomed; as he entered the final five kilometers with Rujano desperately trying to stay on the Saxo Bank-Sungard captain's wheel, fans could smell the reshuffling of the general classification which was about to occur.

"Contador went really hard on this climb," said Rujano. "It's a fast climb, my form is good and I rode well but Contador is a great rider. I tried to go with him but I can only congratulate him for his ride."

Behind him, those other aspirants to the crown were fighting to stay in touch with the Spaniard; Nibali, Kreuziger, David Arroyo, Kanstantin Sivtsov and Garzelli pushed hard to sweep up the crumbs left by the soon-to-be maglia rosa of this year's Giro.

And the man who would assume that title finally shook his Venezuelan companion with a savage acceleration at 1,500 meters left to race, hanging onto his advantage to ride to a sensational solo win.

Full Results

Swipe to scroll horizontally
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard4:54:09
2José Rujano Guillen (Ven) Androni Giocattoli0:00:03
3Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone0:00:50
4Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 3 - Cell 2
5Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Pro Team AstanaRow 4 - Cell 2
6David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 5 - Cell 2
7Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-HighroadRow 6 - Cell 2
8Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi0:00:59
9John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:01:07
10Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 9 - Cell 2
11Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 10 - Cell 2
12Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 11 - Cell 2
13Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Movistar TeamRow 12 - Cell 2
14Matteo Carrara (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 13 - Cell 2
15Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Col) Androni GiocattoliRow 14 - Cell 2
16Jesús Hernandez Blazquez (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard0:01:13
17Francesco Masciarelli (Ita) Pro Team Astana0:01:22
18Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team0:01:30
19Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre - ISD0:01:45
20Emanuele Sella (Ita) Androni Giocattoli0:02:09
21Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Pro Team AstanaRow 20 - Cell 2
22Jan Bakelants (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto0:02:16
23Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMCRow 22 - Cell 2
24Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Pro Team AstanaRow 23 - Cell 2
25Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team0:02:21
26Joaquím Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha TeamRow 25 - Cell 2
27Johann Tschopp (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 26 - Cell 2
28Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 27 - Cell 2
29Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 28 - Cell 2
30Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Geox-TMCRow 29 - Cell 2
31Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli0:02:35
32Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Sky Procycling0:02:41
33Francis De Greef (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto0:02:47
34Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha Team0:04:25
35Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago - CSF InoxRow 34 - Cell 2
36Kevin Seeldraeyers (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team0:04:34
37Philip Deignan (Irl) Team RadioShack0:04:47
38Marco Pinotti (Ita) HTC-HighroadRow 37 - Cell 2
39Tiago Machado (Por) Team RadioShackRow 38 - Cell 2
40Peter Stetina (USA) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 39 - Cell 2
41Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard0:05:10
42Filippo Savini (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox0:05:24
43Sergio Pardilla Belllón (Spa) Movistar Team0:06:03
44Massimo Codol (Ita) Acqua & Sapone0:06:08
45Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team0:06:35
46Mauricio Ardila Cano (Col) Geox-TMCRow 45 - Cell 2
47Bart De Clercq (Bel) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 46 - Cell 2
48Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro) Acqua & SaponeRow 47 - Cell 2
49Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col) Acqua & SaponeRow 48 - Cell 2
50Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 49 - Cell 2
51Marco Marzano (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 50 - Cell 2
52Julien Berard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:09:16
53Inaki Isasi Flores (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 52 - Cell 2
54Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox0:09:26
55Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:09:47
56Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 55 - Cell 2
57Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Saxo Bank SungardRow 56 - Cell 2
58David Blanco Rodriguez (Spa) Geox-TMC0:11:06
59Branislau Samoilau (Blr) Movistar TeamRow 58 - Cell 2
60Juan Horrach Rippoll (Spa) Katusha Team0:11:10
61Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Katusha TeamRow 60 - Cell 2
62Cristiano Salerno (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 61 - Cell 2
63Michael Barry (Can) Sky Procycling0:11:52
64Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Sky ProcyclingRow 63 - Cell 2
65Morris Possoni (Ita) Sky ProcyclingRow 64 - Cell 2
66Richie Porte (Aus) Saxo Bank SungardRow 65 - Cell 2
67Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 66 - Cell 2
68Carlos José Ochoa (Ven) Androni Giocattoli0:12:53
69Bjorn Selander (USA) Team RadioShack0:14:59
70Marcel Wyss (Swi) Geox-TMCRow 69 - Cell 2
71Dario David Cioni (Ita) Sky ProcyclingRow 70 - Cell 2
72Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:16:07
73Olivier Kaisen (Bel) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 72 - Cell 2
74Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale0:16:22
75Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale0:16:27
76Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Androni GiocattoliRow 75 - Cell 2
77Michal Golas (Pol) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 76 - Cell 2
78Gert Dockx (Bel) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 77 - Cell 2
79Laurent Didier (Lux) Saxo Bank SungardRow 78 - Cell 2
80Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha TeamRow 79 - Cell 2
81Simone Stortoni (Ita) Colnago - CSF InoxRow 80 - Cell 2
82Cameron Meyer (Aus) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 81 - Cell 2
83Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team0:17:05
84Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Team RadioShack0:17:07
85Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 84 - Cell 2
86Eros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale0:18:34
87Kjell Carlström (Fin) Sky Procycling0:23:46
88Carlos Oyarzun (Chi) Movistar TeamRow 87 - Cell 2
89Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 88 - Cell 2
90Sebastian Lang (Ger) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 89 - Cell 2
91Javier Francisco Aramendia Lorente (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 90 - Cell 2
92Gorazd Stangelj (Slo) Pro Team AstanaRow 91 - Cell 2
93Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 92 - Cell 2
94Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 93 - Cell 2
95Maxim Gourov (Kaz) Pro Team AstanaRow 94 - Cell 2
96Patrick Gretsch (Ger) HTC-HighroadRow 95 - Cell 2
97Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr) Katusha TeamRow 96 - Cell 2
98Alberto Ongarato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 97 - Cell 2
99Luis Pasamontes Rodriguez (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 98 - Cell 2
100Yuriy Krivtsov (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 99 - Cell 2
101Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 100 - Cell 2
102Josep Jufre Pou (Spa) Pro Team AstanaRow 101 - Cell 2
103Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 102 - Cell 2
104Claudio Corioni (Ita) Acqua & SaponeRow 103 - Cell 2
105Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre - ISDRow 104 - Cell 2
106Jorge Azanza Soto (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 105 - Cell 2
107Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri SottoliRow 106 - Cell 2
108Marco Frapporti (Ita) Colnago - CSF InoxRow 107 - Cell 2
109Alan Marangoni (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 108 - Cell 2
110Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Sky ProcyclingRow 109 - Cell 2
111Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 110 - Cell 2
112Simon Zahner (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 111 - Cell 2
113Carlos Alberto Betancourt Gomez (Col) Acqua & SaponeRow 112 - Cell 2
114Lars Ytting Bak (Den) HTC-HighroadRow 113 - Cell 2
115Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 114 - Cell 2
116Fabio Taborre (Ita) Acqua & SaponeRow 115 - Cell 2
117Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Katusha TeamRow 116 - Cell 2
118Andrea Noe (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri SottoliRow 117 - Cell 2
119Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Geox-TMCRow 118 - Cell 2
120Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La MondialeRow 119 - Cell 2
121Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 120 - Cell 2
122Davide Malacarne (Ita) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 121 - Cell 2
123Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 122 - Cell 2
124David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 123 - Cell 2
125Giampaolo Cheula (Ita) Geox-TMCRow 124 - Cell 2
126Brett Lancaster (Aus) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 125 - Cell 2
127Craig Lewis (USA) HTC-HighroadRow 126 - Cell 2
128Evgeny Petrov (Rus) Pro Team AstanaRow 127 - Cell 2
129Dmitry Kozontchuk (Rus) Geox-TMCRow 128 - Cell 2
130Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 129 - Cell 2
131Thomas Peterson (USA) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 130 - Cell 2
132Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 131 - Cell 2
133Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 132 - Cell 2
134Oscar Gatto (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri SottoliRow 133 - Cell 2
135Alexsandr Dyachenko (Kaz) Pro Team AstanaRow 134 - Cell 2
136Pavel Brutt (Rus) Katusha Team0:23:59
137Maxim Belkov (Rus) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:24:31
138Leonardo Giordani (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli0:24:44
139Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale0:24:46
140Robert Hunter (RSA) Team RadioShackRow 139 - Cell 2
141Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Saxo Bank SungardRow 140 - Cell 2
142Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Saxo Bank SungardRow 141 - Cell 2
143Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 142 - Cell 2
144Elia Favilli (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri SottoliRow 143 - Cell 2
145Rick Flens (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 144 - Cell 2
146Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 145 - Cell 2
147Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Team RadioShackRow 146 - Cell 2
148Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 147 - Cell 2
149Ivan Rovny (Rus) Team RadioShackRow 148 - Cell 2
150Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Movistar TeamRow 149 - Cell 2
151Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 150 - Cell 2
152Federico Canuti (Ita) Colnago - CSF InoxRow 151 - Cell 2
153Francesco Reda (Ita) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 152 - Cell 2
154Daniel Sesma (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 153 - Cell 2
155Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 154 - Cell 2
156Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 155 - Cell 2
157Pierre Cazaux (Fra) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 156 - Cell 2
158Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Acqua & SaponeRow 157 - Cell 2
159Addy Engels (Ned) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 158 - Cell 2
160Miguel Minguez Ayala (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 159 - Cell 2
161Matteo Rabottini (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri SottoliRow 160 - Cell 2
162Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 161 - Cell 2
163Matthew Wilson (Aus) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 162 - Cell 2
164Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 163 - Cell 2
165Dennis Van Winden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 164 - Cell 2
166Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Androni GiocattoliRow 165 - Cell 2
167Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Androni Giocattoli0:25:33
168Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox0:25:56
169Davide Appollonio (Ita) Sky ProcyclingRow 168 - Cell 2
170Jos Van Emden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 169 - Cell 2
171Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre - ISD0:26:02
172Manuel Antonio Leal Cardoso (Por) Team RadioShackRow 171 - Cell 2
173Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 172 - Cell 2
174Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 173 - Cell 2
175Juan José Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 174 - Cell 2
176Michael Mørkøv (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard0:26:19
177Giairo Ermeti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli0:26:21
178Manuel Belletti (Ita) Colnago - CSF InoxRow 177 - Cell 2
179Alexander Kristoff (Nor) BMC Racing Team0:26:30
180Davide Ricci Bitti (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli0:26:33
181Chad Beyer (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 180 - Cell 2
182Frantisek Rabon (Cze) HTC-Highroad0:26:3