Alberto Contador lit the afterburners and climbed to stage win on the steep Alto de Hazallanas in Vuelta a Andalucía. The Spanish captain of Tinkoff-Saxo followed up on a stage-long team effort by surprising his rivals with an early attack. Contador crossed the finish line 19 seconds ahead of main rival Chris Froome and extended his lead in the GC.
“I’m very glad for this victory especially because it came in place after such a big effort from all of my teammates. Every single guy on the team did an incredible job in controlling the race and setting up my final attack. They kept a consistently high pace throughout the stage, which cost a lot of energy for my rivals”, says Alberto Contador and adds:
“After the short descent halfway up the final climb, I saw that Paulinho had stretched the peloton and Basso then created a gap by pulling hard. So I decided to go early, accelerate and go alone. I knew it would be difficult to catch me, I felt good and I wanted to repay my teammates with a win”.
Team effort and early attack
The 160km stage 3 to the steep and snow-covered Alto de Hazallanas was marked by a hard tempo set by Tinkoff-Saxo in order to control the race. And with the slopes of Hazallanas insight, Tosatto, Valgren and Petrov turned up the heat and quickly reeled in the breakaway. Then Jesús Hernandez took over and sent a number of riders into difficulties before Sergio Paulinho stretched out the decimated front group on the short descent halfway up the climb.
Italian veteran Ivan Basso then took over as the road began to rise with seven kilometers to go and unleashed a hard tempo, which created gaps among the stretched out favorites. Alberto Contador, attached to the wheel of the 2010-Giro winner, then followed up by launching the final attack. Chris Froome (Team Sky) was the only rider that could respond to the pace and the time gap soared between 20-35 seconds for the remainder of the climb. Alberto Contador eventually sealed the team effort by winning stage 4, 19 seconds ahead of the Sky captain.
Leading sport director, Steven de Jongh, experienced the exciting stage first hand and labeled the stage as proper teamwork.
“We really have to thank especially Valgren, Tosatto and Petrov, who worked so hard during the entire stage and on a difficult parcours as well. They brought the team in a perfect position before the climb. Ivan then did a really nice move showing his experience and Alberto finished it off by showing his instinct for knowing when to attack”, de Jongh says. “It was a part of the plan but the guys also did a great job in executing the strategy and finding the precise moments to put on the pressure. I’m proud of the teamwork today, it was a thorough job done by the boys”.
Alberto Contador now leads with 27 seconds to Chris Froome in second place. However, the Tinkoff-Saxo captain underlines that the victory is not yet secured.
“Still, the time difference between me and Froome is not big and we’ll have to wait and see what happens tomorrow, which is also a very hard stage. But I had a good day and I’m confident because of my victory and the way my team performed. I’m not yet in top shape, I still have to loose weight, but for this moment I’m pleased with my performance, finishes Alberto Contador.
Tinkoff Saxo Press
Photos by Ciclismo a Fondo