Mikel Nieve Climbs to Win In 2011 Giro d'Italia Queen Stage
Team Saxo Bank-SunGard's Alberto Contador extended his already commanding lead while fellow Spaniard Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Team Euskaltel) won the grueling 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia 2011 late this afternoon.
Team Saxo Bank-SunGard's Alberto Contador extended his already commanding lead while fellow Spaniard Mikel Nieve Ituralde won the grueling 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia on Sunday.
A member of an early breakaway, Nieve clocked a lengthy 7 hours, 27 minutes, 14 seconds over the five major climbs lining the 229-kilometer (142-mile) route from Conegliano to Gardeccia/Val di Fassa.
Stefano Garzelli - another member of the breakaway and a rider who won the Giro d'Italia eleven years ago - crossed second, 1 minute, 41 seconds behind, and Contador was third, 1:51 back.
"Today was terrible. There were moments when I was alone, but I was able to control the other (riders) and I'm very pleased with the final result," Contador said. "I was also able to control my energy level well but I'm very tired. Today's stage was the toughest of my life and now I have to recuperate."
Contador said he consumed 7,000 calories during the stage. Contador is using the premium version of the Roadcycling.com training diary to manage and log his daily intake of calories.
Overall rivals Michele Scarponi and Vincenzo Nibali crossed fourth and seventh, 1:57 and 3:34 behind, respectively.
Contador now leads Scarponi by a distant 04:20 in the overall standings, with Nibali dropping from second to third, 5:11 behind.
"Contador is demonstrating that he's the strongest and he continues to gain time," Scarponi said. "Today's stage seemed like it would never end."
Nibali gained a lead on Contador during the technical and high-speed descent from the Giau pass, the highest point of the three-week race, at an elevation of 2,236 meters (7,336 feet).
But Contador caught him on the next climb, to the Fedaia pass, then dropped him on the day's final ascent, which ended with a section of gravel road.
Besides the length and long climbing sections, the stage was made even more difficult by high temperatures at the start and cool and rainy conditions at the finish.
"Today was spectacular," said Contador's Saxo Bank team director Bjarne Riis. "Nibali is a phenomenon when he goes downhill. Nobody can follow Nibali downhill and so I told (Contador) that when he breaks away not to follow him, just stay calm, eat and recuperate."
After the final rest day tomorrow, Monday, stage 16 on Tuesday is a 12.7-kilometer (7.9-mile) mountain time trial.
The 2011 Giro d'Italia ends next weekend in Milano.
Watch daily video highlights from the 2011 Giro d'Italia in the video section right here on Roadcycling.com.
You'll find complete results and more photos from stage 15 here.
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