Spaniard Igor Anton of the Euskaltel team won the 14th stage of the Giro d'Italia on Saturday, with compatriot Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) retaining the overall leader's pink jersey. Contador finished just 33-seconds off Anton after negotiating the final grueling 10.1km climb, with Italian Vincenzo Nibali in third on the day's racing that ended in driving rain. Anton jumped from seventh to third in the overall standings, 1-second off Nibali and 3:21behind Contador.
"I'm very, very tired. Igor did well, and me, well I was thinking about the overall standings," said Contador. "Vincenzo (Nibali) had a great ascent. When I kicked before the 1km mark, I, above all, sought to gain a few seconds which could be very useful at the finish in Milan. Nibali showed that he's a very strong rival, to watch in the Giro's last week."
Nibali said his team had been instrumental in setting up his third place finish. "I felt great. I know the ascent well and I asked my teammates to work at the foot of the Zoncolan," the Italian said. "During the climb, I asked Contador to take it in turns, to have a bit of a breather, but he didn't want to and accelerated. I wouldn't have done as he did but everyone's free to race their own race. He's very strong. It'll be tough to claw back the three minutes he's up. But the Giro's not over."
The stage, which started in the Austrian city of Lienz, was altered by safety officials. They deemed the Monte Crostis section, which includes a vertiginous - nine percent average gradient over 15km - and ultra narrow descent, too dangerous and tough a challenge prior to the finish on Monte Zoncolan.
Giro d'Italia Stage 14
1. Igor Anton (ESP/Euskaltel) 5:04:26
2. Alberto Contador (ESP/SAX) @ .33
3. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/LIQ) @ .40
4. Michele Scarponi (ITA/LAM) @ 1:11
5. Denis Menchov (RUS/GEO) @ 1:21
6. John Gadret (FRA/ALM) @ 1:38
7. Mikel Nieve (ESP/EUS) @ 1:52
8. Hubert Dupont (FRA/ALM) @ 1:55
9. Kanstantsin Siutsou (BLR/HTC) @ 2:05
10. Jose Rujano (VEN/AND) @ 2:11
General Classification After Stage 14
1. Alberto Contador (ESP/SAX) 54:45:45
2. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/LIQ) @ 3:20
3. Igor Anton (ESP/EUS) @ 3:21
4. Michele Scarponi (ITA/LAM) @ 4:06
5. John Gadret (FRA/ALM) @ 5:23
6. Kanstantsin Siutsou (BLR/HTC) @ 5:37
7. Denis Menchov (RUS/GEO) @ 6:06
8. Hubert Dupont (FRA/ALM) @ 6:12
9. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/AST) @ 6:40
10. David Arroyo (ESP/MOV) @ 6:43