“I suffered for 40km and I could have lost 20 minutes,” a shattered Aru said after the stage.
“It honestly wasn’t one of the best days of my career. I suffered a lot and I rode more with my head than my legs. I fought all the way to the line so that I didn’t lose everything.”
It may not have been everything, but in the end, Aru did however lose more than two minutes on the day and now sits 4min 12sec behind Contador in what's looking increasingly to be a one-horse race. Landa, who salvaged something for Astana by notching his second stage win appears the de facto leader at the team, and most likely, if there indeed anyone, to challenge Contador.
Aru echoed Landa's own comments that he'd been given a green light for the Spaniard to go on without him after becoming acutley aware he wouldn't be able to hold the pace of Contador.
“Mikel was feeling good and so it was right he got to play his cards. He won the stage and if someone is feeling better than you, team leader orders go by the way. That’s only fair,” Aru said.
“Now I just want to think about recovering for the next few days, I’m really tired, I did a huge effort. It was a kind of effort that you can only make on a bike.”
Stage 17 does offer some respite and a chance for the Italian to recover, if only slightly, before the mountains return in earnest.