Alberto Contador Wins Giro d'Italia Mountain Time Trial and Dedicates Victory to Xavier Tondo
Team Saxo Bank-SunGard's Alberto Contador climbs to victory in 2011 Giro d'Italia mountain time trial and increases overall Giro lead. Team Liquigas-Cannondale's Vincenzo Nibali finishes 2nd; Michele Scarponi third; Jose Rujano fourth.
Team Saxo Bank-SunGard's Alberto Contador won the 2011 Giro d'Italia's demanding mountain time trial earlier this afternoon and thereby increased his already commanding overall lead in the Giro.
The Spaniard clocked 28 minutes, 55 seconds over the 12.7 kilometer/7.9-mile 16th stage time trial climb from Belluno to Nevegal.
It was Contador's second victory in this year's Giro d'Italia and he dedicated it to close friend and fellow Spanish pro cyclist Xavier Tondo, who died in a tragic accident yesterday after he was crushed between his car and a garage door in southern Spain heading out for a training session in preparation for the 2011 Tour de France. Tondo admirably helped the Spanish authorities obtain evidence against a doping organization earlier this year.
Contador pointed a finger to the sky and to Tondo during the post-stage award ceremony.
"I really wanted to win today," the triple Tour de France champion commented and continued "Xavi (Tondo) was a good friend and in the last few races we always worked together for the victory. He was a very good guy, always happy and he was an incredible person and his death has affected me deeply. This victory is for him."
Commenting on his ride in today's time trial and his considerations in regards to how to best tackle the course, Contador told Roadcycling.com and our mobile sister site Roadcycling.mobi "I took it steady in the opening kilometers and then found my rhythm. Then I went as fast as I could. I knew I was three seconds faster than Nibali and so I was in control, but it was a hard climb. This is my first win in pink and like winning in yellow at the Tour de France or at the Vuelta, it's something I will never forget."
Italians Vincenzo Nibali (Team Liquigas-Cannondale) and Michele Scarponi (Team Lampre-LSD) finished second and third, 34 and 38 seconds behind, respectively. Jose Rujano, who won stage 13 of this year's Giro, finished 4th in today's time trial. In the overall standings, Contador leads Scarponi by 4 minutes, 58 seconds, with Nibali 5:45 back.
There was a minute's silence observed before the first rider started today's mountain time trial to honor Tondo, and Nibali recalled riding against the Spaniard en route to winning last year's Spanish Vuelta a Espana.
"Tondo was one of my rivals at the Vuelta," Nibali said and added "He was somebody you could joke around with and beyond being a rival he was also a friend."
The opening 3 miles of Tuesday's stage were fairly flat, but then the road went uphill significantly, with the final 2.8 miles at an average gradient of 10 percent, with a maximum of 14 percent.
Nibali led at the midway point, but Contador accelerated on the uphill section.
"Contador was really a Martian today," Nibali said about Contador's performance today. "I thought I had a really great performance. ... But I'm second behind Alberto Contador, so I'm more than pleased."
The 17th stage Wednesday is a 143-mile leg from Feltre to Tirano, including a major climb over the Tonale pass and a smaller climb over the Aprica pass.
The three-week 2011 Giro d'Italia Grand Tour ends in Milano on Sunday.
Watch daily video highlights from the 2011 Giro d'Italia in the video section right here on Roadcycling.com.
You'll find complete results and more photos from stage 16 here.
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