Blazin' Saddles

Contador composed

Blazin' Saddles

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It's not every day that you're awarded with a niche musical instrument for leading a race nobody else apparently wants to win.

But that happened to Alberto Contador before the start of Thursday's stage 12 at Castelfidardo when the Spaniard, all decked out in pink, was presented with a pink accordion.

The Spaniard looked rather sheepish - and standing up there in front of the local cheering fans, Contador certainly didn't want to play with his pink organ.

So why the garish squeezebox?, you ask. Well, the hilltop town of Castelfidardo happens to be the international capital of accordion builders - and seeing this 94th edition of the Giro is so steeped in history, it would be a shame for the Castelfidardo faithful - for want of a better phrase - not to blow their own trumpet a little.

On Wednesday, Contador had told reporters that the Giro "could be won in the hotels". Well, if Bertie plays his accordion outside the windows of his main opponents, he could well be right.

Of course, the gift of an accordion is far from the strangest offering thrust into Alberto's hands. Back during the 2009 Tour, the then-Astana rider was given a St Bernard dog after he won stage 15 to the Alpine town of Saint Bernard.


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Apparently it can take up to eight months to construct a top-of-the-range accordion. So if Contador sees CAS uphold his doping ban, he'll be well onto his second instrument by the time he can return to competitive cycling.

Later in the day, as the HTC train was chasing down the breakaway, cycling fans were treated to some nice images of the local Italian flamingos.

Contador must have felt quite relaxed in the presence of his fellow pink creatures of wonder. You see, the Saxo Bank rider has quite a lot in common with flamingos. Like AC, flamingos are pretty in pink, they do not eat beef - and while they often don't have a leg to stand on, they do seem to extricate themselves from nasty situations.

In ancient Rome, flamingo tongues were considered a delicacy. In fact, voracious Roman emperors would often feast on dishes which included flamingo tongues, pheasant brains, parrotfish livers and lamprey guts.

With the Giro now heading into the Dolomites for more than a week of mountains, Contador's rivals will be hoping similarly to silence the peloton's own flamingo.

The Spaniard appears so in control of his fate in this year's Giro it's looking increasingly unlikely that anyone else can wear pink at all this May.

But things change - and they change fast. The next brutal three days include the Grossglockner, the Zoncolan and the race's highest point, the Giau.

Then after the rest day we have the mountain time trial, two up-and-down transitional stages, a final summit finish, and then the concluding ITT.

Contador may be composed at the moment, but the likes of Nibali, Rodriguez and Kreuziger still have time to orchestrate his downfall. Or at least rip out his tongue and eat it with some fava beans and a glass of Chianti.

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