The stage to Lugano, which on paper looked like a transition stage, turned out to be fast and hectic. Contador finished in the front main group after a fast descent towards his hometown ripped the peloton apart.
“A breakaway went early but it was a fast day. Our boys kept Alberto safe and on the final, fast descend towards Lugano. We decided to ride at the absolute front of the main bunch to keep Alberto out of trouble," said the team's Sports Director, Steven de Jongh.
"And that’s what the boys did. We are in a position where we can’t make any mistakes and we’ve seen that anything can happen, even at times where everything looks safe.”
After another successful day for the team, their attention turns towards Stage 18 and the final mountainous part of the stage.
“For sure, it’s not going to be an easy day," said de Jongh. "It’s a stage that is obvious for a breakaway but maybe the GC guys want to do something on Monte Ologno or the nice descend to Verbania afterwards.”
Stage 17 from Tirano to Lugano saw Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) take the stage win after a sprint decision. The general classification contenders hung tight to avoid losing time as the peloton fragmented on the descent.
Contador, who leads the Giro with four days to go, said that it had been a nervous stage. Team-mate, Chris Juul-Jensen, who has spent hours at the front of the pack in this year's Giro d’Italia, noted that the adrenaline kick from defending the pink jersey has kept him going.
“I’m starting to feel the exhaustion creeping up slowly but I think that the adrenaline you’re feeling when riding in defense of the jersey is something that will enable me to reach Milano in one piece. Today, it was the best outcome for us and once again a stage like this proves that there are no easy stages during this Giro,” said Juul-Jensen.
“Although it looked on paper to be a transition stage before tomorrow’s harder stage, it still hurt in the legs for everybody also considering the stage we tackled yesterday. But I think we did well and kept Alberto out of trouble and he was hopefully able to rest a bit before he probably has to be there again tomorrow”.
Contatdor maintains his 4min 2sec lead heading into tonight's 170km stage from Melide to Verbania.