Alberto Contador shows off climbing skills on Mortirolo
APRICA, Italy (AP) Alberto Contador put on a demonstration of his climbing skills on the steep Mortirolo pass and extended his lead in the 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia on Tuesday.
Spanish rider Mikel Landa posted his second consecutive stage victory after getting clearance from the Astana team to leave behind captain Fabio Aru, who again struggled.
Landa required just over 5 hours over the 174-kilometer (108-mile) leg from Pinzolo to Aprica, which included five categorized climbs.
Dutch rider Steven Kruijswijk finished second, 38 seconds behind, and Contador crossed third with the same time.
Aru finished nearly three minutes behind Landa, who moved ahead of the Italian into second.
Contador had some mechanical problems on a descent before the Mortirolo but surged into the lead on the climb, passing one rider after another.
Tinkoff-Saxo teammate Ivan Basso, a two-time Giro winner, gave Contador his wheel after the Spaniard punctured.
''It was a very difficult and complex stage,'' Contador said. ''But that's cycling.''
Marco Pantani won a memorable stage on the Mortirolo in 1994 and there is a monument along the climb to remember the Italian, who died of a cocaine overdose in 2004.
Contador said Pantani's exploits were an inspiration for his career, and he wanted to honor the Italian.
''It's a stage I'll remember forever, and I hope the fans will, too,'' Contador said.
Contador leads Landa by 4:02, with Aru third, 4:52 behind.
''Today I really proved that I can be one for the strongest riders on the climbs, and we still have several uphill finishes left,'' Landa said. ''As a team, we will have to stick together and stay attentive, because what happened to Contador today could happen to one of us.''
Stage 17 on Wednesday is a 134-kilometer (83-mile) leg from Tirano to Lugano, Switzerland, featuring one Category 3 climb and some rolling hills.
The 98th Giro ends Sunday in Milan.