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"As for Landa, he's obviously a very strong rider and deserves to be respected, like everyone else, I imagine he'll go on the attack, and I'll have to be ready."

Photo: Tinkoff - Saxo / BettiniPhoto©2015






27.05.2015 @ 21:38 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador finished in the front main group sprinting for glory after a fast descent down towards the captain’s hometown of Lugano had ripped the peloton apart. Contador maintains his 4’02” lead before tomorrow’s stage to Verbania that, according to Steven de Jongh, might see the GC guys going toe-to-toe.
Once again there was no rest for the weary in the Giro d’Italia, as stage 17, which on paper looked like a transition stage, turned out fast and hectic. Tinkoff-Saxo’s Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh asserts that the team did well in protecting the team leader.
“A breakaway went early but it was a fast day. Our boys kept Alberto safe and on the final, fast descend towards Lugano we decided to ride at the absolute front of the main bunch to keep Alberto out of trouble. And that’s what the boys did. We are in a position, where we can’t make any mistakes and we’ve seen that anything can happen even at times, where everything looks safe”, explains Steven de Jongh, who now directs his and the team’s attention towards stage 18 and the final mountainous part of the stage.
“For sure, it’s not going to be an easy day tomorrow. It’s a stage that is obvious for a breakaway but maybe the GC guys want to do something on Monte Ologno or the nice descent to Verbania afterwards. It could very well become interesting”, says de Jongh.
Stage 17 from Tirano to Lugano saw Sacha Modolo (LAM) take the stage win after a sprint decision, while the GC contenders hung tight to avoid losing time, as the peloton fragmented on the descend. Alberto Contador, who still leads the Giro by 4’02” with four days to go, explains that it had been a nervous stage.
“In theory it was a transitional stage but it was hard. The road went up and down, and we were riding into a headwind for most of the day. The peloton was very nervous, and it was fast, with the three-man breakaway up the road. So far, something has happened almost every day: a crash or a puncture. I'm very happy because I got through the stage safely and arrived in Lugano, where I live, on my home roads. Yesterday was much more wearing than I would have liked, but I'm one day closer to Milan”, tells Alberto Contador after his trip to the podium.


"For me, a stage finish here is much more special than any other place we have been. I've been living here for three years, and I have friends here and part of my family too, so of course it's special. We're in the third week now, so I miss them. Do I feel like a local? Yes, I do. 

"I think if you ask all the riders who are here, they'll tell you it's a very wearing Giro. I have been asked if it is the hardest Giro I've ever ridden. I think not: the hardest was 2011. However, the speed and the difficulty of every stage, including supposedly transitional stages like today's, are without a doubt more demanding than I'd prefer, but that's the way it is. 

"It's too far away for me to train on [tomorrow's climb of Monte Ologne], because it's the other side of Lago Maggiore, but they tell me that it's very hard and with high gradients, so I'll have to be on the alert. As for Landa, he's obviously a very strong rider and deserves to be respected, like everyone else, I imagine he'll go on the attack, and I'll have to be ready.

"I think that the time trial I did the other day, was a time trial that bears close analysis: if you look at what the wind was doing at different moments, I think it was a good day when I expressed my ability to the full. And yesterday, too, the circumstances were special, and they forced me to express myself perhaps more than I would have liked.


"As for thumping the table, tell me what it means. Sometimes, stages seem to come more smoothly. At other times, they don't. If you look at the stages to come, the final climbs are not really hard, so to win you would have to attack from a long way out.


"Obviously, I'm thinking of Milan, and arriving in Pink, which is what I planned. Stage wins are secondary, not least because, in five weeks, I have another race that is going to be as demanding, if not more demanding, than this one, and every effort made here has a price."
Chris Juul-Jensen, one of the Tinkoff-Saxo riders that have spent hours at the front of the pack in this Giro d’Italia, notes that the adrenaline kick from defending the pink jersey keeps him going.

“I’m starting to feel the exhaustion creeping up slowly but I think that the adrenaline you’re feeling when riding in defense of the jersey is something that will enable me to reach Milano in one piece. Today, it was the best outcome for us and once again a stage like this proves that there are no easy stages during this Giro”, says Chris Juul-Jensen and adds:
“Although it looked on paper to be a transition stage before tomorrow’s harder stage, it still hurt in the legs for everybody also considering the stage we tackled yesterday. But I think we did well and kept Alberto out of trouble and he was hopefully able to rest a bit before he probably has to be there again tomorrow”.



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