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Astana Pro Team’s collection of five stage wins, as well as their two riders in the top three overall of the Giro d’Italia, has seen the Kazakh squad make big gains

Photo: Sirotti

ALEJANDRO VALVERDE

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ASTANA QAZAQSTAN TEAM

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WORLDTOUR

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01.06.2015 @ 13:09 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The leader of the Giro d’Italia - barring one day - since stage five, Contador’s seventh Grand Tour victory and second outright win in the Giro d’Italia was taken without a single stage win. However, thanks to a relentlessly consistent overall ride both on the climbs and the time trials of the three-week race, the 32-year-old managed to pull on the final, definitive maglia rosa of the Giro d’Italia winner on Sunday in Milan.

 

A dislocated shoulder after a late crash in the first week could have put Contador in serious difficulties. But a third place in the Giro d’Italia’s ultra-long time trial on stage 14 instead gave Contador a solid lead to defend in the mountainous final week - which he did in style.

 

One crunch moment came in the third week with an untimely puncture close to the foot of the Mortirolo. But Contador then turned the tables with a blazing ascent of the Giro d’Italia’s single most daunting climb, regaining contact with his most dangerous rivals and even briefly attacking them. Then athough Contador struggled in the final kilometres of the Colle dell Finestre on Saturday’s stage 20, the Tinkoff-Saxo leader stayed calm, rode within himself on the final ascent to Sestriere and eventually could claim the first Grand Tour win of the 2015 season.

 

“I’m very happy to have won, it’s been a real rollercoaster of a Giro d’Italia,” Contador said, who finished with a final advantage of 1-53 over Italy’s Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team) and 3-05 on Aru’s Spanish team-mate, Mikel Landa on Sunday.

 

“This Giro d'Italia was very demanding but I knew it was going to be difficult. The mountain finishes weren't steep, which perhaps created the impression that the Giro wasn’t that hard, but I used up a lot of energy, more than I'd have liked.”

 

Whilst Valverde remains in the lead of the UCI WorldTour individual rankings with 338 points, Contador is now second, having gained 21 places, with 307 points. Longstanding leader Richie Porte (Team Sky) has dropped to a close third behind Contador, with 304 points.

 

Overall in the UCI WorldTour, the only other big gains in the uppermost end of the classification have been made by Aru, who has moved from 46th to seventh overall, whilst Mikel Landa is now 19th, 60 places higher.

 

In the UCI WorldTour teams ranking, Katusha have managed to outsqueeze Etixx-Quick Step from the uppermost rank of the classification, but by the slender margin of just one point. The Russian squad now have 844 points compared to the Belgian team’s 843.

 

Meanwhile Astana Pro Team’s collection of five stage wins, as well as their two riders in the top three overall of the Giro d’Italia, has seen the Kazakh squad make big gains. Astana Pro Team have moved up from tenth to fifth overall, whilst Tinkoff-Saxo, thanks to their overall victory, have now ascended from seventh to sixth place.

 

Unsurprisingly with first and third overall in the Giro d’Italia Spain have made a big increase in their already considerable lead in the UCI WorldTour nations ranking, with a new total of 1096 points. For now the only nation with over 1000 points in their tally, Australia and Colombia remain in second and third place, with 658 and 555 points. Italy, though, have made a significant gain and are now in fourth place with 553 points, whilst the Czech Republic have squeezed into the top ten, too, with 266 points.

 

As for Contador, his next big challenge will be the Tour de France in just over a month’s time, where he will attempt to become the first rider since the late Marco Pantani in 1998 to take both the Giro d’Italia and the French Grand Tour in the same year. But for now, regardless of what happens in July, he can enjoy having captured a second Giro d’Italia for his palmares. Furthermore, as Contador said on Sunday, “I don’t know how long I will take to recover from this, but no matter what happens it’s been a beautiful race.”

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