Giro d'Italia - Contador in control as Rujano wins

Fri, 20 May 16:38:00 2011

Alberto Contador strengthened his grip on the maglia rosa by finishing second to Jose Rujano in a mountainous stage 13 of the Giro d'Italia.

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The Spaniard attacked on the final ascent to Grossglockner in the Austrian Alps, shedding all his rivals except the pint-sized Venezuelan climber.

With one stage victory already in the bag, Contador (Saxo Bank) allowed Rujano (Androni Giocattoli) to come through and take the win after a rain-lashed finale.

It was a monumental performance by Contador, who now leads Italy's Vincenzo Nibali by 3 minutes 9 seconds in the overall standings.

Frenchman John Gadret, winner of Wednesday's stage 11, came home 1:27 down on the two leaders, two seconds ahead of his AG2R-La Mondiale team-mate Hubert Dupont and Spain's Igor Anton (Euskaltel).

A group containing Contador's main rivals for the GC - including Roman Kreuziger (Astana), Michele Scarponi (Lampre), Denis Menchov (Geox) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) - crossed the line 1:36 down.

Three lower category climbs preceded Friday's showdown ascent to the tallest peak in Austria. A group of 16 riders broke clear after 40 kilometres of the 167km stage, building up a maximum lead of just over five minutes before the first major test of the day.

Hard work on the front of the peloton by Anton's Euskaltel team saw the group's advantage cut to less than two minutes before the final climb of the day.

Astana's Robert Kiserlovski had broken clear on the penultimate climb of the day but was soon caught by former pink jersey Pieter Weening (Rabobank) and Cayetano Sarmiento of Acqua & Sapone.

But both riders stood no chance staying out ahead once the race's main contenders played their hand.

Rujano put in the initial attack, taking only Scarponi and Anton with him. Keeping calm, Contador reeled them in before launching his own devastating blow. 29-year-old Rujano was the only rider who could match his pace, and the pair rode over the climb's first summit with almost a minute over their pursuers.

Wet conditions meant the likes of Nibali - an excellent downhill rider - could not take back any time before the final 5km rise to the finish.

Contador rode most of the final section on the front before allowing Rujano through to take the win. It was the Venezuelan's second stage victory in the Giro, the first coming back in 2005 in Sestrieres.

The Giro continues on Saturday with a brutal 210km ride which includes the controversial Monte Crostis descent and a summit finish atop the legendary Monte Zoncolan.

Giro d'Italia stage 13

Felix Lowe / Eurosport

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