Britain's David Millar completed a hat-trick of Grand Tour individual time trial wins in Milan today, taking his first Giro stage to add to previous wins in the Vuelta and Tour de France, as Alberto Contador this afternoon sealed his overall victory in the 2011 Giro d'Italia. Michele Scarponi of Lampre-ISD held onto second place in the general classification despite Liquigas Cannondale's Vincenzo Nibali taking 10 seconds back from him today.
Millar’s time put him 7 seconds ahead of second-placed Alex Rasmussen of HTC-Highroad, with Contador himself the third quickest rider on the 26km course, 36 seconds behind the winner. The Scot, a past team time trial winner in the Giro, had never before won an individual stage in it, whether on the road or against the clock, although he did wear the maglia rosa earlier in this year’s race.
After winning the sixth Grand Tour of his career, Contador will now head to France in July to attempt not only to claim his fourth Tour de France overall title in five years, but also become the first man to land the Giro-Tour double since Marco Pantani in 1998.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) had been due to rule in a fortnight’s time on the appeal brought by the World Anti-doping Agency and the UCI against Contador being cleared of doping charges by the Spanish national federation, the RFEC, following his positive test for clenbuterol in last year’s Tour de France.
That appeal has now been postponed, however, and is not now likely to take place till after July’s race. Should the appeal go against Contador and the Saxo Bank-Sungard rider be banned, he is likely to be stripped of his 2010 Tour de France win.
It is less clear what would happen to his 2011 Giro d’Italia victory plus any other results achieved since he returned to racing. Some expect that he would be stripped of all results subsequent to last year’s Tour de France, but there have been reports that his results this year would stand, since Contador has been cleared to race by his national federation.
Today, as wearer of the maglia rosa, Contador was the final rider off at two minutes before 5pm local time, and straight from the start ramp he was pedalling with purpose in pursuit of the time set my Millar, silver medallist behind Fabian Cancellara in the World Championships in Geelong last year.
The 34-year-old Scot had started the day in 104th position on the general classification, three and a quarter hours down on Contador, and zipped round the course, which had been shortened as a result of local elections being held in Milan, in a time of 30 minutes and 30 seconds at an average speed of 51.6kph.
Contador was the only rider to get inside Millar’s time of 10 minutes 21 seconds at the first intermediate check, and then only by 1 second. However, by the second time check, the Spaniard had lost ten seconds on the Garmin-Cervélo rider as his pace eased up on the second half of the course.
Logistical and personnel issues caused by local elections being held today in Milan had caused the length of the course to be shortened and that, as well as the margin of the lead Contador held this morning, perhaps added to a sense of anti-climax today.
Also contributing to that was the fact much of the course was based around the car parks and approach roads surounding the huge trade fair area to the north west of the city centre.
The riders then headed past what, by the standards of the Giro, perhaps the most picturesque of cycling’s three Grand Tours to the television viewer, was a drab suburban backdrop on its way to the finish in front of the city’s vast Gothic cathedral, the third largest church in the world.
There too there was little hint of the majestic setting for those watching TV, with both the cathedral itself and the neighbouring Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II obscured by a mass of signage and poor use of camera angles.
That was a minor detail though at the end of a three week race that was overshadowed by the death in a crash on Stage 3 of Wouter Weylandt’s, the riders today passing over a finish line that bore the Leopard Trek rider’s race number, 108, as well as his initials.
Never far from the thoughts of anyone connected to the race over the past fortnight, the 26-year-old Belgian, ‘sempre con noi’ – ‘always with us’ – as countless banners and the presentation stage proclaimed, made it to the end of the 2011 Giro d’Italia after all.
Giro d’Italia Stage 21 result 1 MILLAR David Garmin-Cervelo 30:13 2 RASMUSSEN Alex HTC-Highroad 0:07 3 CONTADOR Alberto Saxo Bank-SunGard 0:36 4 PORTE Richie Saxo Bank-SunGard 0:43 5 POPOVYCH Yaroslav RadioShack 0:55 6 VAN EMDEN Jos Rabobank 1:02 7 MEYER Cameron Garmin-Cervelo 1:04 8 GRETSCH Patrick HTC-Highroad 1:08 9 MACHADO Tiago RadioShack 1:12 10 SIVTSOV Kanstantsin HTC-Highroad 1:16 11 NIBALI Vincenzo Liquigas-Cannondale 1:18 12 MONTAGUTI Matteo AG2R 1:19 13 KIRYIENKA Vasili Movistar 1:22 14 VANDEWALLE Kristof Quickstep 1:24 15 LANG Sebastian Omega Pharma-Lotto 1:26 16 KREUZIGER Roman Astana 1:26 17 SCARPONI Michele Lampre-ISD 1:28 18 FLENS Rick Rabobank 1:28 19 KONOVALOVAS Ignatas Movistar 1:30 20 KRUIJSWIJK Steven Rabobank 1:31 Giro d’Italia Final General Classification 1 CONTADOR Alberto Saxo Bank-SunGard 84:05:14 2 SCARPONI Michele Lampre-ISD 6:10 3 NIBALI Vincenzo Liquigas-Cannondale 6:56 4 GADRET John AG2R 10:04 5 RODRIGUEZ Joaquin Katusha 11:05 6 KREUZIGER Roman Astana 11:28 7 RUJANO Jose Androni-Giocattoli 12:12 8 MENCHOV Denis Geox-TMC 12:18 9 KRUIJSWIJK Steven Rabobank 13:51 10 SIVTSOV Kanstantsin HTC-Highroad 14:10 Giro d’Italia Final Points Classification 1 CONTADOR Alberto Saxo Bank-SunGard 202 Pts 2 SCARPONI Michele Lampre-ISD 122 Pts 3 NIBALI Vincenzo Liquigas-Cannondale 121 Pts 4 RUJANO Jose Androni Giocattoli 107 Pts 5 GADRET John AG2R 97 Pts Giro d’Italia Final Mountains Classification 1 STEFANO Garzelli Acqua & Sapone 67 Pts 2 CONTADOR Alberto Saxo Bank-SunGard 58 Pts 3 RUJANO Jose Androni Giocattoli 43 Pts 4 NIEVE Mikel Euskaltel-Euskadi 39 Pts 5 BRAMBILLA Gianluca Colnago-CSF Inox 38 Pts Giro d’Italia Final Young Rider Classification 1 KREUZIGER Roman Astana 84:16:42 2 KRUIJSWIJK Steven Rabobank 2:23 3 STETINA Peter Garmin-Cervelo 38:41 4 BAKELANDTS Jan Omega Pharma-Lotto 43:39 5 DE CLERCQ Bart Omega Pharma-Lotto 52:57
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.