• El Pistolero... Firing on all cylinders come July? (Tinkoff-Saxo)Source: Tinkoff-Saxo
Following the penultimate stage of the Giro d'Italia, asks Anthony Tan, did we learn more about what may occur in July than what actually happened out on course Saturday?
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31 May 2015 - 4:55 PM  UPDATED 31 May 2015 - 5:11 PM

"His recovery will be, by some margin, the most critical factor, because support in the mountains is only useful if you have the legs to follow, and when the opportunity arises, attack."

Saturday's epic to Sestrière was arguably more interesting for what it may tell us about this year's Tour de France than what it told us about the race itself, because as maglia rosa Alberto Contador said afterwards (and I believe his words to be true), while he was on a bad day, "I was never afraid of losing the the Giro d'Italia."

Here's what some of the pundits thought as the drama unfolded on the Colle delle Finestre...

For Contador, one clear outcome is that if he is to back up in July, more help is required in the high mountains - duly acknowledged by Steven de Jongh, Tinkoff-Saxo DS at the Giro, immediately afterwards: "We must recognize that Astana has been the strongest team in the mountains and today they had six guys in the front group on Finestre."

The heralding of Fabio Aru as a future Grand Tour champion, set to make his Tour debut this year alongside defending champ Vincenzo 'The Shark of Messina' Nibali, also means that Astana now have two great whites circling in their tank...

Of course, the skeptic in me says there's something, er, well, fishy, about the way Astana rode this year's Giro...

And how they may be making monsters out of men...

Another obvious pointer for Bertie is that he must somehow recover from what was undeniably a brutally unforgiving race, both physically and mentally, in a shade over a month.

Four years ago, on May 29, he walked away from Milan with a six- and seven-minute winning margin over Michele Scarponi and Nibali (before the Court of Arbitration for Sport stripped him of the title in February 2012). Despite the apparent ease with which he won, however, Contador was clearly below-par in July and ended the Tour fifth overall, four minutes behind Cadel Evans. (On Wednesday he said 2011 was his toughest-ever Giro - though if you asked him again after Saturday, I'm almost certain that, if he was honest, the 32-year-old Spaniard would say this year was as hard, if not tougher than that.)

For me his recovery will be, by some margin, the most critical factor, because support in the mountains is useful only if you have the legs to follow, and when the opportunity arises, attack.

For now, though, with Part 1 of 2 complete, let's give Contador his dues, and congratulate El Pistolero on a job well - no, make that brilliantly - done.