• Tinkoff Saxo's Alberto Contador continued his winning season with a decisive victory on the 3rd stage of the Route de Sud (AAP)Source: AAP
For both Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana the Queen stage of the Route du Sud was all that mattered as both riders continued their preparations for the Tour de France.
Cycling Central

21 Jun 2015 - 9:11 AM  UPDATED 21 Jun 2015 - 9:14 AM

The 2015 efforts of both riders could not be more different. Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) won the Giro d’Italia as he attempts to make the history books as a rare rider to win the Giro/Tour double, while Quintana (Movistar) has been almost invisible after claiming the Tirreno–Adriatico title earlier in the year and a six-week training break.

Their different pathways to the Tour Grand Depart in Utrecht, the Netherlands, meant there was little to go on in assessing their relative head-to-head strenghts.

While Stage 3 of the Route du Sud may not have been definitive in a tour context, it showed that both riders remain on top of their game and on track with the battle hardened Contador winning ahead of an underdone Quintana.

Contador surged repeatedly on the iconic Port de Balè climb then attacked on the descent, where he dropped Quintana and then passenger Pierre-Roger Latour (AG2R) to win by 13 seconds.

Australian fans would remember the difficult 160km stage from Izaourt to Bagnères-de-Luchon as the one Tinkoff-Saxo’s Michael Rogers won in Tour de France 2014.


Alberto Contador:

“All my teammates did a very good job today and for that reason I had to round off the effort. On Port de Balès I was with Quintana and I asked him whether he wanted to collaborate in order to bring Latour back, who was alone at the front. Quintana said he didn't want to because he considered I was very strong.

“There was still a long way to go but I tried to control the race to the top of the climb. At that point I got a few meters from Quintana and I realised it was a question of gritting my teeth and holding on to the finish line. I staged a few attacks, just enough to be able to control the race.”

“Every win is always important and boosts your morale but this one doesn't mean much. The main objective remains the Tour de France."

Nairo Quintana:

“I'm very satisfied with what I did today; it was a great test, I felt strong. Tinkoff drove a high pace all stage long; it was really like a Tour de France stage, with huge speed all the way.

“Contador made a strong attack halfway through the climb and I could respond pretty well. At a certain point, he asked me to take some turns and he'd let me win the stage.

“I said that I wouldn't take any turns nor attack him. The roads into the descent were gritty and it made no sense to take any chances and lose everything. Contador really made a risky descent.

“As I said before, I'm happy with how I rode today, my body responded well to the efforts."

Contador leads Quintana by 17 seconds with the Stage 4 finale a 166km rolling route from Revel to Gaillac. Barring mishap, the general classification should finish in that order. The next stop for the pair is Utrecht.