Giro d'Italia Stage 15: Nieve makes it 2 in a row for Euskaltel as Contador hurts rivals again

Basque team follows up Igor Anton's win on Zoncolan with another victory today

by Simon_MacMichael   May 22, 2011  

Giro d'Italia logo.jpg

Mikel Nieve made it two wins in the Alps in two days for for Euskaltel-Euskadi in Stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia this afternoon following Igor Anton's victory on the Zoncolan yesterday, with Stefano Garzelli second. Again, however, the day's real winner was third-placed Alberto Contador who once more put those with pretensions to challenge him for the maglia rosa to the sword and streched his lead at the top of the general classification.

The Saxo Bank-SunGard rider, winner of five Grand Tours including the 2008 Giro, has already shown that he is consistently the best climber in the race, but today it was Vincenzo Nibali's turn to show his descending skills, including riding right on the limit to close down a one minute gap that Contador and others in the main contender's group had opened up over him on the day's penultimate climb.

It's to the Liquigas-Cannondale man's detriment that this year's 94th edition of the Giro is heavy with summit finishes but has only two stages, 17 and 18 later this week, where the profile of the closing kilometres is downill. 

Indeed, today, following his phenomenally quick descent that appeared to catch Contador and others by surprise when he rejoined them, Nibali had no response on the next and final climb to the summit finish at Gardeccia Val di Fassa as Michele Scarponi attacked.

John Gadret of AG2R and Contador both went with the Lampre-ISD man, before the maglia rosa himself attacked, quickly leaving Gadret and Scarponi behind as he headed on up the road with only two men ahead of him, Nieve and Garzelli.

The latter, winner of the Giro in 2000, had ridden well within himself yesterday, signalling his intention to go on the attack today. He and Nieve were among 18 escapees who had got away during the early stages of the 229km Queen Stage of this year's race.

Garzelli took the prize for being the first man over the Cima Coppi, the highest point in each year's Giro, set this year at 2,236 metres on the Passo Giau, and although he was overhauled by Nieve on the final climb, he just managed to hold on from Contador to seal second place.

Contador now extends his lead at the top of the overall standings to 4 minutes 20 seconds, with Scarponi jumping into second place at the expense of Nibali, who slips to third, 5 minute 11 seconds behind the race leader.

Following tomorrow's rest day, racing resumes on Tuesday with a 12.7km mountain time trial from Belluno to Nevegal. Few would bet against Contador further extending his lead at the top of the GC.

Giro d’Italia Stage 15 result  1  NIEVE Mikel           Euskaltel-Euskadi    7:27:14
2  GARZELLI Stefano      Acqua & Sapone       at 1:41
3  CONTADOR Alberto      Saxo Bank-SunGard       1:51
4  SCARPONI Michele      Lampre-ISD              1:57
5  GADRET John           AG2R                    2:28
6  RUJANO Jose           Androni Giocattoli      2:35
7  NIBALI Vincenzo       Liquigas-Cannondale     3:34
8  RODRIGUEZ Joaquin     Katusha                 3:34
9  KREUZIGER Roman       Astana                  4:01
10 KRUIJSWIJK Steven     Rabobank                4:13
11 MENCHOV Denis
         Geox-TMC                4:23

12 ARROYO David
          Movistar                4:30

13 BAKELANDTS Jan
        Omega Pharma-Lotto      4:54
14 DEIGNAN Philip
        RadioShack              6:40

15 CATALDO Dario
         Quickstep               6:45

16 SARMIENTO Cayetano
    Acqua & Sapone          6:45

17 SIVTSOV Kanstantsin   HTC-Highroad            6:45

18 ANTON Igor
            Euskaltel-Euskadi       7:59

19 SELLA Emanuele
        Androni-Giocattoli      9:01

20 WEENING Pieter
        Rabobank                9:23

Giro d’Italia Overall Standings after Stage 15 
1  CONTADOR Alberto      Saxo Bank-SunGard   62:14:42
2  SCARPONI Michele      Lampre-ISD           at 4:20
 3  NIBALI Vincenzo       Liquigas-Canondale     5:11
4  GADRET John           AG2R                    6:08
5  NIEVE Mikel           Euskaltel-Euskadi       7:03
6  RUJANO Jose           Androni Giocattoli      8:39
7  MENCHOV Denis         Geox-TMC                8:46
8  KREUZIGER Roman       Astana                  8:58
9  RODRIGUEZ Joaquin     Katusha                 9:20
10 ARROYO David          Movistar                9:30