Tirreno-Adriatico: Alberto Contador takes overall lead after brilliant stage five victory
Last Updated: 16/03/14 6:59pm
Alberto Contador launched his stage-winning attack 32km out
Alberto Contador produced a magnificent solo performance to win stage five of Tirreno-Adriatico and surge into a commanding overall lead of the race.
The Tinkoff-Saxo rider launched an unstoppable attack 32km out on the penultimate climb of the day and comfortably rode away from all of his rivals in the general classification.
He later caught up with what was left of the day's breakaway and then shed those riders as well on the brutally tough concluding climb of the Muro di Guardiagrele to seal his second consecutive stage win of the race and third of the season.
Previous race leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) suffered a torrid day and followed more than six minutes later, which sees him drop out of the top 10 overall.
Contador now has a 2min 8sec race lead over Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who finished the day in a chase group, with Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) seven seconds further back in third.
Contador said afterwards: "My dream was to attack on the Passo Lanciano [the penultimate climb] and go alone. Sometimes it is difficult and a risk, but I thought it was best.
"I am very happy with this victory. I feel good, day by day I do better. This winter I was training very hard and now is the result."
The 192km fifth stage appeared set to be decided on the penultimate climb of the Lanciano and then the steep ascent to the finish line, which was less than 1km long but averaged 22 per cent in gradient and carried a maximum ramp of 30 per cent.
With the peloton beginning to splinter on the mid-slopes of the Lanciano, Contador and Quintana tested the legs of Kwiatkowski with a provisional attack.
Contador now takes on the leader's blue jersey
They later sat up and fell back into line, but Contador, starting the day 16 seconds down on Kwiatkowski, clearly sensed the kill, and he attacked again - this time more ferociously - around 3km short of the summit.
His move was so powerful that even Quintana could not follow, and the Spaniard soon opened up a gap of more than 30 seconds on his closest chasers and several minutes on Kwiatkowski, who by now had cracked under the pressure and was moving at little more than walking pace.
Contador joined up with breakaway rider Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol) just below the summit and then the rest of the three remaining escapees on the flat run to Guardiagrele.
He led the group on to the final climb, but on this form the tired escapees were no equal to his climbing ability on the brutal 30 per cent ramp and the outcome of the stage was never in doubt.
Quintana formed part of the first chase group but they were unable to make inroads into Contador's lead and the Colombian uncharacteristically cracked on the last climb as he surrendered more time.
Watch highlights of stage five on Sky Sports 4 tonight at 10pm GMT. Repeated on Monday morning at 10am GMT on Sky Sports 3.
Stage five result
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, 4:54:42
2 Simon Geschke (Ger) Giant-Shimano, +6secs
3 Ben King (USA) Garmin-Sharp, +45
4 Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol, +1:01
5 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +1:26
6 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha, +1:39
7 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo, +1:42
8 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, same time
9 Julian Arredondo (Col) Trek Factory Racing, st
10 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
12 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +1:51
38 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +6:03
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, 21:01:30
2 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +2:08
3 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo, +2:15
4 Julian Arredondo (Col) Trek Factory Racing, 2:39
5 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +2:40
6 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky, +2:50
7 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha, +2:51
8 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +2:56
9 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha, +2:58
10 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Trek Factory Racing, +3:06
Watch Sky Sports' new cycling show "InCycle" on Wednesday at 6.30pm on Sky Sports 3.