Alberto Contador may not have won a stage on his way to winning the 2015 Giro d’Italia but save for a period of 24 hours after his crash and shoulder dislocation on stage 6 the victory was never in question. Contador dominated the race against a powerful Astana team and after initially winning the Maglia Rosa leaders jersey on stage 5, he wore it for the remainder of the race bar one stage after he was held up in a crash towards the end of the stage.
How the race unfolded
The 98th Giro d’Italia opened with a 17.6km team team time trial along the coast from San Lorenzo al Mare to Sanremo. The stage taking place largely on the bike lane of Riviera dei Fiori, a narrow asphalt bike lane along a former railway line that included several tunnels. Orica GreenEdge won the stage putting Simon Gerrans in the Maglia Rosa, while Tinkoff-Saxo finished second giving Contador an early six second advantage over GC rival Fabio Aru (Astana) who finished third, while Richie Porte (Team Sky) finished twenty seconds back from Contador’s team in ninth.
The leaders jersey was swapped around the Orica GreenEdge team over the next three stages with Michael Matthews wearing the Maglia Rosa after finishing ninth on stage 2, then keeping it again after winning stage 3 while wearing the Maglia Rosa. Simon Clarke finished second on stage 4 to win the leaders jersey.
Contador took the lead on stage 5 after finishing with Aru, Porte and Sylvain Chavanel on the 17km climb to the Abetone finish.
Stage 6 was nearly a disaster for Contador after a photographer reaching over the barriers to get a photo knocked a Nippo-Vini Fantani rider which set off a chain reaction of crashes bringing Contador down as well. Contador remounted and finished the last two hundred metres of the stage but was in obvious discomfort. Contador suffered a double dislocation of the shoulder and there was speculation that he wouldn’t be able to start the following stage.
— Gregor Brown (@gregorbrown) May 17, 2015
Stage 7 was the longest stage of this years Giro at 264km, Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) won the stage but the real story was Alberto Contador finishing safely in the bunch and retaining the leaders jersey. Stage 8 and 9 brought the riders to the first rest day with no change in the overall leader. Alberto Contador led by 3 seconds from Fabio Aru and 22 seconds to Richie Porte.
Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF) won a pan flat 200km stage 10 to Forlì in what should have been an easy stage for the GC rivals watching the sprinters do their thing. It proved anything but that for Porte who suffered a puncture 5km from the finish getting isolated from his team mates and then taking a spare wheel from Orica GreenEdge’s Simon Clarke incurring a two minute time penalty for breaching race rules around accepting assistance outside your own team.
Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) won stage 11 that finished on the F1 track in Imola, Philippe Gilbert celebrated his first win of 2015 in winning the stage 12 stage that finished on the punchy final steep ramp of Monte Berico in Vicenza. Over these three stages the GC remained unchanged other than Porte’s times loss, with Mikel Landa taking Porte’s third place.
Stage 13 witnessed another turn of events with both Contador and Porte getting caught behind another crash and having to change bikes with team mates. Contador got straight off the ground and yelled for a bike from his team mate and was up and riding again losing only 40 second to Aru, Porte seemed to stumble around deciding what to do before jumping on a team mates bike that was obviously too big for him, by the end of the stage he had lost around two minutes and any hope of a podium in the overall race.
The Stage 14 Time Trial was 54.9km and an opportunity for Alberto Contador to regain the race lead and gain an advantage to set up the overall race victory. Vasil Kiryienka of Team Sky won with a time of 1:17:52, Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) was second and Contador rounded out the placings finishing 14 seconds behind Kiryienka. Importantly Contador gained nearly three minutes on Aru and four minutes on Landa.
The week finished with a victory to Mikel Landa on Stage 15 with the GC remaining virtually the same as the previous day.
The stage 14 Time Trial and the tough mountains of week three were always going to decide this year’s Giro, the final week included the famous Giro climbs Passo del Mortirolo and Colle Delle Finestre. Mikel Landa won an action packed stage 16, 38 seconds ahead of Steven Kruijswijk (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) who crossed the line with Contador, Contador had the misfortune of a puncture on the descent of the Aprica prior to the Mortirolo climb and had an epic chase back on to reach the leaders. As soon as Contador reached the leaders he attacked and Aru was dropped, eventually losing 2 minutes to Contador and nearly 3 minutes to team mate Landa.
— La Brigade Du Style (@BDS_Cycling) May 19, 2015
Stage 17 was another stage for the sprinters, a short 134km stage that only included the category 3 Teglio climb soon after the stage start. Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) won his second stage with Australia’s Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling) finishing fourth, his best result for the Giro. Stage 18 to Verbania featured the category 1 climb and Contador again lit up the race gaining revenge for dodgy tactics by Astana and Katusha on the Mortirolo stage. Contador gained over a minute on Aru and Landa with Philippe Gilbert winning his second stage.
Today’s scenario was a bit different from what happened on the Mortirolo. Before the climb, my team was working hard on the front and expending energy because I knew that we had to be at the front going into the climb, and we wanted to avoid problems. In the event, Landa was caught behind, for the first time in the race.
“Overall, I’m very happy to have gained more time in the GC. I’m tired, because after the last climb it was a time trial, but every day is hard here. We’ll see what happens tomorrow and the following day – Alberto Contador
Stage 19 featured three category 1 climbs towards the end of the 236km stage, Fabio Aru struck back winning the stage and gaining back 1 minute and 18 seconds on Alberto Contador and Mikel Landa. So heading into the final real stage of Giro that featured the legendary Colle Delle Finestre, Contador held a 4 minute 37 second lead over Aru, with Landa another 38 seconds back. Fabio Aru took an impressive victory on the Cima Coppi stage after Astana’s attacks finally dropped Contador who lost over 2 minutes to both Aru and Landa. Contador had been forced to cover a ridiculously strong Astana team all week and it seemed that finally took it’s toll on the Colle Delle Finestre.
“I’ve paid for the efforts of racing hard each day,” Contador, who took the overall lead as early as stage five and has worn the maglia rosa ever since barring one day, said. “But I knew that I had a good margin on Aru already. It was all about not panicking and concentrating on keeping things under control.”
Stage 21 was a flat 178km from Torino to Milan that would normally end in a bunch finish, Iljo Keisse (Etixx – Quick-Step) upset the sprinters party winning the stage from the breakaway with Australia’s Luke Durbridge (Orica GreenEdge) finishing second.
Results of the 2015 Giro d’Italia
1. Alberto CONTADOR VELASCO, TINKOFF-SAXO, in 88:22:25
2. Fabio ARU, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 1:53
3. Mikel LANDA MEANA, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 3:05
4. Andrey AMADOR BAKKAZAKOVA, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 8:10
5. Ryder HESJEDAL, TEAM CANNONDALE-GARMIN, at 9:52
6. Leopold KONIG, TEAM SKY, at 10:41
7. Steven KRUIJSWIJK, TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO, at 10:53
8. Damiano CARUSO, BMC RACING TEAM, at 12:08
9. Alexandre GENIEZ, FDJ, at 15:51
10. Yury TROFIMOV, TEAM KATUSHA, at 16:14
11. Maxime MONFORT, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 17:51
12. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 25:12
13. Tanel KANGERT, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 28:05
14. Rigoberto URAN URAN, ETIXX-QUICK STEP, at 28:26
15. Amaël MOINARD, BMC RACING TEAM, at 30:35
16. Darwin ATAPUMA HURTADO, BMC RACING TEAM, at 40:36
17. Mikel NIEVE ITURALDE, TEAM SKY, at 48:24
18. Giovanni VISCONTI, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 50:32
19. Paolo TIRALONGO, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 1:03:38
20. Carlos Alberto BETANCUR GOMEZ, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 1:17:27
21. Andre Fernando S. Martins CARDOSO, TEAM CANNONDALE-GARMIN, at 1:19:27
22. Stefano PIRAZZI, BARDIANI CSF, at 1:21:38
23. Diego ROSA, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 1:24:57
24. Franco PELLIZOTTI, ANDRONI GIOCATTOLI, at 1:30:49
25. Dario CATALDO, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 1:35:24
26. Kanstantsin SIUTSOU, TEAM SKY, at 1:45:52
27. Jon IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:46:30
28. Roman KREUZIGER, TINKOFF-SAXO, at 1:47:03
29. Benat INTXAUSTI ELORRIAGA, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:49:22
30. Jonathan MONSALVE, STH, at 1:50:19
Best Young Rider
1. Fabio ARU, ASTANA PRO TEAM, in 88:24:18
2. Davide FORMOLO, TEAM CANNONDALE-GARMIN, at 1:51:46
3. Fabio FELLINE, TREK FACTORY RACING, at 1:54:04
4. Sebastian HENAO GOMEZ, TEAM SKY, at 2:37:35
5. Kenny ELISSONDE, FDJ, at 2:45:04
6. Silvan DILLIER, BMC RACING TEAM, at 2:51:11
7. Jan POLANC, LAMPRE-MERIDA, at 2:53:15
8. Jhoan Esteban CHAVES RUBIO, ORICA GreenEDGE, at 2:59:44
9. Francesco Manuel BONGIORNO, BARDIANI CSF, at 3:10:43
10. Ruben FERNANDEZ, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 3:16:23
1. Giacomo NIZZOLO, TREK FACTORY RACING, 181 points
2. Philippe GILBERT, BMC RACING TEAM, 148 points
3. Sacha MODOLO, LAMPRE-MERIDA, 147 points
4. Elia VIVIANI, TEAM SKY, 144 points
5. Nicola BOEM, BARDIANI CSF, 127 points
6. Iljo KEISSE, ETIXX-QUICK STEP, 98 points
7. Alberto CONTADOR VELASCO, TINKOFF-SAXO, 96 points
8. Marco BANDIERA, ANDRONI GIOCATTOLI, 92 points
9. Diego ULISSI, LAMPRE-MERIDA, 83 points
10. Luka MEZGEC, TEAM GIANT-ALPECIN, 78 points
1. Giovanni VISCONTI, Mov, 125 points
2. Mikel LANDA MEANA, Ast, 122 points
3. Steven KRUIJSWIJK, Tlj, 115 points
4. Benat INTXAUSTI ELORRIAGA, Mov, 107 points
5. Fabio ARU, Ast, 80 points
6. Carlos Alberto BETANCUR GOMEZ, Alm, 75 points
7. Ryder HESJEDAL, Tcg, 70 points
8. Simon GESCHKE, Tga, 53 points
9. Pavel KOCHETKOV, Kat, 52 points
10. Alberto CONTADOR VELASCO, Tcs, 51 points
Race Report by The Bike Lane @thebikelane_aus