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Giro d'Italia Stage 18: Philippe Gilbert takes solo win, Alberto Contador extends lead

Second stage win of this year's race for BMC Racing's former world champion ...

Philippe Gilbert, twice winner of Il Lombardia, has taken another victory in the Italian lakes by riding away from his fellow escapees to win Stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia in Verbania on the shores of Lake Maggiore, his second stage win in this year's race.

On a day on which the overall contenders might have been expected to take things easy, race leader Alberto Contador launched a stunning attack on the big climb of the stage to extend his lead.

Former world champion Gilbert was one of 11 riders in the break on the 170km stage from Melide, and the BMC Racing rider attacked with 21km remaining on the descent from Monte Ologno, the day's sole categorised climb.

Fellow breakaway riders Francesco Bongiorno of Bardiani-CSF finished second, 47 seconds down on the Belgian, with IAM's Sylvain Chavanel taking the sprint for third, a further 14 seconds back.

Afterwards, Gilbert said: "I'm very happy with this second stage win. We rode a great race with Amael Moinard, my team-mate in the breakaway. We worked together.

"He went with the best climbers in the group, I followed at my own pace, and when I crossed the mountains point with a deficit of 40 seconds, I knew I could get back to them."

Contador, who started the day with a 4 minute 2 second advantage over Astana's Mikel Landa, rolled over the line about 6 minutes after Gilbert, who had started that final climb around 10 minutes ahead of him.

Only 2012 winner Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin-Cannondale was able to join the Tinkoff-Saxo rider, who attacked after Landa had been caught up behind a crash about 45km from the finish.

Despite dropping his chain at one point while on his own, he extends his lead in the General Classification by more than a minute.

Some might see his attack today as payback for Tuesday's Stage 16, when Astana tried - unsuccessfully - to distance Contador when he punctured just ahead of the ascent of the Mortirolo.

Contador said: "Today's scenario was a bit different from what happened on the Mortirolo.

"Before the climb, my team was working hard on the front and expending energy because we knew that we had to be at the front going into the climb, and we wanted to avoid problems.

"In the event, Landa was caught behind, for the first time in the race. I'm very happy to have gained more time in the General Classification.

"I'm tired, because after the last climb it was a time trial, but every day is hard here. We'll see what happens tomorrow and the following day."

Reaction to follow.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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PaulBox | 8 years ago

Contador was an absolute animal yesterday.


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