MILAN — One down, one to go.
Alberto Contador clinched his second Giro d’Italia title on Sunday, and immediately turned his attention to fulfilling his aim of becoming the first cyclist since 1998 to win the Italian classic and the Tour de France in the same year.
“I overcame so many difficulties, but at the end I got the maglia rosa (pink jersey),” Contador said. “I don’t know how long it will take to recover but I think I’ll get back to work on Saturday. It was an emotional Giro. I already said it would be my last but you never know.”
Contador had all but secured the win after Saturday’s 20th stage when he saw his lead cut in half but nevertheless headed into the final day — a mainly processional stage — with more than a two-minute advantage on closest rival Fabio Aru. Contador ended up winning by one minute 53 seconds.
The 32-year-old Contador has had to dig deep during a troublesome three weeks in Italy, after dislocating his shoulder in an early crash, and is likely to face stiffer competition in the Tour.
“The Tour starts for me now,” the Spaniard said. “Tonight I will rest as much as I can, tomorrow I will go to Spain and take three or four days before I start concentrating again on the Tour in complete isolation.
“My rivals won’t have done the Giro, so the Tour could be more complicated because they won’t have the Giro in their legs.”
A two-time Tour champion, Contador won the Giro in 2008 and was also triumphant in Milan in 2011 but was stripped of that title for testing positive in the 2010 Tour.
“In 2008 my preparation was better but I didn’t know the climbs,” Contador said. “In 2011 I rode after conscientious preparation but also after an intense start to the season. This year I’ve also raced in the first part of season but the Giro was the part of the double objective that I had set myself so I was calmer and more reflective including during the race.
“There were days when I could have been more ambitious but I decided to ride tactically and it went well.”
Contador, who has also won the Spanish Vuelta three times, joins French cycling great Bernard Hinault as only the second rider in history to have won all three grand tours more than once.
Aru finished second overall, with Astana teammate Mikel Landa third, 3:05 behind Contador, who took a total of 88 hours, 22 minutes, 25 seconds to cycle the 3,486 kilometres (2,166 miles) of the three-week race.
Victoria’s Ryder Hesjedal is fifth in the overall standings, 9:52 behind Contador. He finished the stage tied in a group at 54th. Hugo Houle of Sainte-Perpetue, Que., was 162nd on the day.
Contador had a pink bicycle — the colour of the winner’s jersey — for the final stage while his Tinkoff-Saxo teammates had pink handlebars on their bicycles and all were wearing pink socks.
Team owner Oleg Tinkov had also dyed his hair pink to celebrate the occasion.
Iljo Keisse sprinted to victory at the end of the flat 178-kilometre (110.6-mile) leg from Turin to Milan, edging out Luke Durbridge, who gave his break companion a congratulatory hug as they crossed the line.
“I wasn’t expecting that at all, even if we had come up with a sort of plan for me to try and do something on the final curve.” Keisse said. “I’m a track specialist and I know how to take curves quite well. But then I saw there was a bit of hesitation at the start of the circuit so I attacked. … It’s the best victory ever.”
Daniella Matar, The Associated Press