Well aware of what lay ahead on the stage's decisive Monte Ologno climb, Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) launched a strong attack at the bottom of the ascent, 43km before the finish of the stage in Verbania. In doing so, he extended his overall lead to 5min 15sec over second overall, Mikel Landa (Astana).
“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 I 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.
"Overall, I'm very happy to have gained more time in the GC. 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.” - Alberto Contador
Stage 18 took the riders 170km from Lugano along the Lago Maggiore to Verbania with the biggest obstacle, the climb to Monte Ologno, coming after 124km of riding. With the breakaway approaching the climb more than 11 minutes ahead, it was obvious that the winner would be found out in front. However, that didn’t stop Contador from launching a planned attack at the 1st category climb.
“We knew that the climb was difficult just like the roads leading into the climb. In the morning meeting we agreed that we wanted a breakaway to go and build up a big lead. There were no riders who were a danger to the GC and, since stage wins right now are secondary, we focused on putting Alberto in a great position going into the climb focusing on the fight for the overall win,” said Tinkoff-Saxo Sports Director, Steven de Jongh.
“Alberto said before the stage that he knew the climb very well and that it was especially steep in the first part and at the bottom. So the idea was to go full gas if we were at the front and the guys executed that strategy very well.
"Alberto went solo and he got company from Hesjedal right at the top, where the climb was more gradual. That wasn’t a disadvantage, especially not on the final flatter section towards the finish line, where they could work together.”
Contador and Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) finished the day 6min 5sec behind stage winner, Philippe Gilbert (BMC). Hesjedal moves up to ninth in the general classification with three days remaining in the race to Milan.