Monday, May 26, 2008

A Coming of Age

By: Graham Watson

Alberto Contador passed a major challenge today in his quest to win the Giro d’Italia. Following a few days of uncertainty as to the way Contador was riding, and not withstanding his excellent performance yesterday, all eyes were on him to pull of a great ride to silence any doubts about his right to lead the race. Contador did this with great panache, pulling further away from Riccardo Ricco, Gilberto Simoni and Marzio Bruseghin – probably the only men capable of causing Contador any grief in what remains of this race.

Franco Pellizotti may have won the stage, but Contador has sent a message to his rivals that he’ll be a tough nut to crack in the remaining days - today was a major pressure test, and Contador came through it with full marks.

Contador is still so young that, until today, I felt I had yet to see him at his maximum output. Then the little man came pedalling up the steepest part of the climb, his body language leaving little doubt he was at his very limit, his face creased with the effort he was making, his bared teeth flaring from a wide-open mouth.

Contador will feel very good about himself when he falls asleep tonight, for this was a performance he really wanted to make, as much as anyone else wanted him to make it for them.

A much needed day off beckons, Tuesday, followed by two quieter days, then the three final stages of the Giro – and they’re all very, very difficult!

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