Blazin' Saddles

In a league of his own

Blazin' Saddles

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Atop the mountain whose name roughly translates as "massive bell ringer" the only bells that were ringing were of the alarm variety - and inside the heads of every pro rider bar Alberto Contador.

You see, not only is he blessed with the longest right arm in cycling (look right), Contador is simply untouchable.

Any Grand Tour he races, he wins. Fact. He's won the previous five he's taken part in - and only a sick man would bet against him to make it six in 10 days' time. And seven come July - provided he's given clearance for the Grande Boucle.

It's a race for second place in Italy now. That and the points jersey - seeing that all the sprinters have packed their bags and said arrivederci. Although Contador's leading the points standings too. Oh, and the mountains jersey as well. Ah.

So, the one man Giro show continues. If this were a James Bond film, the alarm bells would be sounding throughout the peloton's lair.

Poor Jose Rujano - the de facto winner of stage 13 atop the Grossglockner has such generously sized ears, he'll surely have tinnitus and a chronic lack of balance while negotiating the controversial descent of Monte Crostis on Saturday.

It's tempting to say Contador is the Barcelona of cycling - but even Barca can be beaten on an off day. Over a three-week race, Contador is utterly peerless. He's the Novac Djokovic of clay court cycling.

A massive mishap or freak accident aside, the Spaniard has this one wrapped up well and truly before the tough stuff has even started.

And the thing is, usually such dominance can grate and be boring on the eye. Not with Contador. His languid but ruthless style of riding is utterly compelling. And at just 28 years of age, Alberto still has scope to adapt and grow as a rider.

Eddy Merckx currently holds the record of most Grand Tour victories in a career - but at this rate, Contador will easily surpass the Belgian's tally of 11 (even if he does pick up the one-year ban which threatens his participation in this year's Tour).

Should the CAS rule in Contador's favour, and the Spaniard go on to win the Tour, then surely he should give the Vuelta a pop come September? Even an exhausted Contador would be better than most competitors.

No rider in history has ever won all three Major Tours in one year - but if anyone can, it's our man in pink.

One thing Bertie could brush up on, mind, is the way in which he rather unsubtly gifts stage wins to his fellow escapees.

Last July we had that cringe-worthy moment when the Spaniard was caught winking at Andy Schleck on the Tourmalet - and then on Friday he actually waved through the Venezuelan pocket Hercules Rujano in the closing metres of the stage.

The least he can do is feign an authentic second-place finish. After all those tainted steak role plays, you'd think his acting would be as good as his riding by now.

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