Cycling: Contador extends lead in Giro d'Italia

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The Independent Online

Alberto Contador extended his already commanding lead while fellow Spaniard Mikel Nieve Ituralde won the gruelling 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia yesterday.

A member of an early breakaway, Nieve clocked a lengthy 7 hours, 27 minutes, 14 seconds over the five major climbs lining the 142-mile route from Conegliano to Gardeccia Val di Fassa.

Stefano Garzelli – another member of the breakaway and a rider who won the Giro 11 years ago – crossed second, 1 minute, 41 seconds behind, and Contador was third, 1:51 back.

"Today was terrible. There were moments when I was alone, but I was able to control the other [riders] and I'm very pleased with the final result," Contador said. "I was also able to control my energy level well but I'm very tired. Today's stage was the toughest of my life and now I have to recuperate." Contador said he consumed 7,000 calories during the stage.

Contador now leads Michele Scarponi by a distant 4:20 in the overall standings. "Contador is demonstrating that he's the strongest and he continues to gain time," Scarponi said. "Today's stage seemed like it would never end."