Giro stage 15: All aboard the Astana train as Landa takes win

Astana tried to lay down the law, but had to settle for a Mikel Landa win after Alberto Contador held his own. A dominant train of Astanites crushed the peloton into tiny pieces as Baby Blackbird sat in their wake and picked off loose seconds to consolidate his lead. Yuri Trofimov’s late attack looked to have taken the stage but Mikel Landa was let off the leash to chase him down and steal victory.

Rider of the day

Without wanting to turn this into an Alberto Contador fan-page, he’s my choice for today. Calm when outnumbered, alert to opportunities and aggressive in taking them, Contador must be pleased with his performance today. Crossing the line with a shrug and jumping on the rollers to warm down, this performance was as much about making a statement as it was about defending his lead.

Outnumbered but not outgunned, Contador stayed cool to extend his lead over Fabio Aru (Image: Giro d'Italia)

Outnumbered but not outgunned, Contador stayed cool to extend his lead over Fabio Aru (Image: Giro d’Italia)

Three things we noticed

1. Astana strength in depth, but no depth in strength. With four teammates to support Fabio Aru on the climb up to Madonna Di Campiglio, it’s clear that Astana’s strength in this Giro is formidable. However, what Astana boast in strength, they lack in tactical nous. Switching off before the intermediate sprint to allow Contador to pick up two bonus seconds, they then proceeded to gift him an easy ride up the final climb. In the closing stages two attacks by Mikel Landa almost unhitched Fabio Aru from the train, as they appeared to be their own worst enemy. From their position in the finale, they should have tested Contador to the limit, but lack of focus let Contador pick up bonus seconds, and finish clear of Aru on the line, increasing his overall lead by seven seconds.

2. Confident Bert. Alberto Contador is a man riding with full confidence. Despite having a healthy lead on the back of yesterday’s time trial, Bert clearly wanted to underline his position by chasing down bonus seconds in the intermediate sprint, and also on the finish line. He was also calm in the face of overwhelming Astana numbers on the final climb. This is a man who knows that he has the beating of his rivals. This is Alberto Contador at his best.

3. GC shake-down. While there may not have been any dramatic changes in the upper reaches of the GC, some big names suffered today and fell out of the top ten. Rigoberto Uran’s traumatic Giro experience continued as he struggled again and lost big time, and Dario Cataldo was among those who also suffered on the road to Madonna di Campiglio and was bumped down the GC. In total, four riders plummeted out of the top ten today, and with some big climbing still to come, it’s clear that there is still a lot to ride for.

Stage 15 result

1. Mikel Landa (Astana) 4:22:35

2. Yuri Trofimov (Katusha) +0:02

3. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) +0:05

4. Fabio Aru (Astana) +0:06

5. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) +0:38

General classification

1. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) 60:01:34

2. Fabio Aru (Astana) +2:35

3. Andrey Amador (Movistar) +4:19

4. Mikel Landa (Astana) +4:46

5. Leopold Konig (Sky) +6:36

6. Yuri Trofimov (Katusha) +6:58

7. Damiano Caruso (BMC) +7:10

8. Maxime Monfort (Lotto-Soudal) +8:20

9. Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) +9:53

10. Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) +10:03

Points leader: Elia Viviani (Sky).

King of the Mountains leader: Benat Intxausti (Movistar).

Best young rider: Fabio Aru (Astana).

Team classification: Astana.

Link: Official race website

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