Milan - Spaniard Alberto Contador has failed to commemorate the memory of
stricken Marco Pantani but held off the threat of rival team Astana to
stretch his lead over Fabio Aru on the 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia
Contador came over the finish line of the 165km ride
from Marostica to Madonna Di Campiglio in third place at five seconds
behind stage winner Mikel Landa with Aru finishing a further second
behind to remain second overall but see his gap on Contador grow to 2min
"I would have liked to win this stage because of Marco
Pantani, who was a big inspiration for me when I was younger," said
"But it was a very difficult stage and Landa was strong in the finale, when there were a lot of attacks.
"It was hard to control everything."
day after regaining the race lead from Aru following his third place
finish on the 14th stage time trial, Contador further underlined his
status as race favourite with a commanding performance on the first day
of climbing in the spectacular Dolomites.
But the Spaniard added: "A lot can still happen in the race and we have a lot of work to do."
Tinkoff team had shouldered the burden of setting the pace on the
penultimate climb, the 8km-long Passo Daone -- a strategy which left
two-time race runner-up Rigoberto Uran struggling to keep pace.
was a brutal day," said Etixx rider Uran, whose bid for a podium finish
now looks decidedly over after he trailed home among the also-rans.
tactic also produced the unwanted result of leaving Contador isolated
among several Astana riders for the final climb, after Australian
teammate Michael Rogers had trailed behind before the race through the
However Contador, a former two-time winner of the Tour de
France who also won the Giro in 2008, acquitted himself handsomely on
the final climb to Madonna di Campiglio - the scene of Italian Marco
Pantani's infamous exclusion from the race in 1999, an incident which is
widely believed to have led to the former champion's downfall and death
from acute cocaine poisoning in a Rimini hotel room in February 2004.
who is bidding to become the first man since deceased Pantani in 1998
to complete the Giro d'Italia-Tour de France double in the same year,
did not have to fret until the final 3km when an acceleration by Landa
sparked the hostilities.
Contador was soon on the Spaniard's wheel but despite pulling in front the race leader struggled to stretch his lead.
and Trofimov soon pedalled their way back to the leading pair with just
over two kilometres remaining. Landa tested his fellow Spaniard with
another burst of speed but, again, Contador countered the move.
then launched a futile attempt for the stage win when he seared past
his fellow leaders at the one kilometre to go flag, but the Russian did
not have the legs to open up a telling gap.
With Trofimov tiring
and the finish line in sight, Landa seized his chance and accelerated
past Trofimov in the last few hundred metres to claim his maiden Grand
"It's an important win for me as much as for the team," said the Spaniard.
"We tried to attack Contador because we outnumbered him... it's given us some hope for the final stages this week.
"Nothing has changed in the team. We're here to help Aru win the pink jersey and he is still our leader."
finished third at five seconds behind Landa to collect a time bonus
which could prove useful over the coming days of climbing in the
On Monday the peloton will enjoy their second and final
rest day of the race before tackling arguably the hardest stage of this
year's 98th edition on Tuesday, a 174 km ride beginning in Pinzolo
which features six climbs including the final punt to the summit finish
The race finishes next Sunday in Milan.
Leading results from the 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia, a 165km run from Marostica to Madonna di Campiglio on Sunday:
1. Mikel Landa (ESP/AST) 4hr 22min 37sec, 2. Yury Trofimov (RUS/KAT) at 02sec, 3. Alberto Contador (ESP/TIN) 05, 4. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 06, 5. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/LNL) 38, 6. Andrey Amador (CRC/MOV) 42, 7. Leopold Konig (CZE/SKY) 1:00, 8. Tanel Kangert (EST/AST) 1:10, 9. Alexandre Geniez (FRA/FDJ) 1:49, 10. Damiano Caruso (ITA/BMC) 2:13.