A cursory dissection of Alberto Contador’s Tirreno-Adriatico win

Alberto Contador held his lead to the end of Tirreno-Adriatico. He lost three seconds to Nairo Quintana in the final time trial, but being as he was already a couple of minutes ahead, this was of no real significance. The result did however surprise many pundits who are for some reason convinced that Quintana can’t time trial, even though he almost always performs creditably in the discipline.

A bigger surprise was that Italian Adriano Malori took the stage. It had seemed safe to assume that this time trial would be like most others and would therefore be about little beyond what order Tony Martin, Fabian Cancellara and Bradley Wiggins would stand on the podium. Turns out that Martin – the world champion – had to make do with the fourth step, which is of course just the floor. You get nothing for fourth place.

Actually, to be technically correct, there’s no podium for individual stages, so there’s no second or third step either. There’s just Adriano Malori getting kissed on the cheeks in some sort of flashback to the 1970s when this kind of thing probably seemed a little less ridiculous.

The beaten men

Going back to Contador, what does his win mean for the Grand Tours? Let’s try and put it in context by looking at the men he beat. Nairo Quintana came second and Contador’s team-mate, Roman Kreuziger, came third. But there were others. Richie Porte was bested on stage four before dropping out with the wild shits and Cadel Evans had been racing until he too abandoned ahead of the final stage.

Evans again appears short of form ahead of his main target, which this year is the Giro, and Rigoberto Uran also performed quite badly, finishing 13 minutes down – although he’s aiming for the Tour de France so he’s got more time to build form. But overall these are very good riders and if Contador pipped them on stage four, he did a proper number on them on stage five when race leader Michal Kwiatkowski in particular suffered huge time losses.

This is Contador’s first stage race win since the 2012 Vuelta and it seems to indicate that his non-event of a season in 2013 won’t be repeated. Steven de Jongh, formerly of Sky, is his new coach, incidentally. De Jongh basically just plonked the Spaniard down on the usual volcano over the winter and told him to ride around more and eat less. It seems to be working.

What’s next?

Milan-San Remo, which is, according to this website, the first race of the season which actually matters. It’s on Sunday and being as it’s so important, I’m actually going to do a race preview in the next day or so.