Tinkoff-Saxo’s captain took matters into his own hands on the slopes of Mortirolo after an all-out effort from his teammates. Contador bridged the gap to main rivals Fabio Aru and Mikel Landa on the captivating climb after having lost time due to a puncture on the descend from Aprica. “My team has been extraordinary”, says Alberto Contador, who extended his lead to 4’02” over Mikel Landa.
In what many people have already dubbed an epic stage, Tinkoff-Saxo and Alberto Contador prevailed and turned a difficult situation into a consolidation of the pink jersey. After crossing the finish line of stage 16 in Aprica, Alberto Contador thanked his teammates for their extraordinary support.
“It was a very hard day, an incredible stage. I’m very proud of all my teammates because they have given 100 percent. They have been extraordinary and people forget that my team is leading the race from the start of the stage every single day. I have this jersey because of them. These are the stages that people remember”, comments Alberto Contador before elaborating on the difficult situation he found himself in on Mortirolo.
“Cycling isn’t mathematics: I had a puncture on the descent, Ivan Basso gave me a wheel because he has the same gear as me, but ahead they were going at full speed, and it was impossible to close the gap immediately. On Mortirolo I was focused on keeping my speed, it was like a time trial, I couldn’t lose the moral and I had to keep calm and focus on the road ahead”.
Alberto Contador crested the summit of Mortirolo together with Mikel Landa and Steven Kruijswijk after having bridged the gap to Fabio Aru and soon after dropped him. With 4k to Aprica, Landa attacked Contador and Kruijswijk, who had led the trio after Mortirolo, and won the stage with 38 seconds.
“It was hard for me on the final part, but I’m very happy with the time gaps now. I would have liked to help Steven Kruijswijk, but it was not to be. To Mikel Landa, I can only say: chapeau. Kruijswijk deserved the win but in cycling everybody has their interests and I respect that”, tells Alberto Contador.
Tinkoff Saxo Press&Bettini Photo