SPORTS

Despite mountains and injured shoulder, Contador hangs onto Giro d'Italia lead

Overall leader Alberto Contador, of Spain, wears the pink jersey during the eight leg of the Giro d'Italia, Tour of Italy cycling race  from  Fiuggi to Campitello Matese, Italy, Saturday, May 16, 2015. (Claudio Peri/ANSA via AP)  ITALY OUT

Overall leader Alberto Contador, of Spain, wears the pink jersey during the eight leg of the Giro d'Italia, Tour of Italy cycling race from Fiuggi to Campitello Matese, Italy, Saturday, May 16, 2015. (Claudio Peri/ANSA via AP) ITALY OUT

Injured Alberto Contador made it through another day in the mountains as he retained the overall lead after nine stages of the Giro d'Italia but lost a precious second to closest challenger Fabio Aru on Sunday.

Aru kicked for the line in an attempt to wrest the leader's pink jersey from Contador but is still three seconds behind the Spaniard, who is attempting to become the first rider since Marco Pantani in 1998 to win the Giro and Tour de France in the same year.

Richie Porte remained third, 22 seconds behind Contador.

The big loser of the general classification riders was last year's runner-up Rigoberto Urán, who fell more than two minutes off the pace.

The Colombian would have been targeting Saturday's time trial to make up time on the leaders after winning last year's time trial to briefly take the maglia rosa.

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"I would have preferred to race in a more conservative manner on the last climb, but Aru asked me to work together because Uran had dropped behind," Contador said. "It was important to put time between us.

"We worked together, even if he beat me by a second in the sprint, but I'm still very happy with my position after nine stages. I have the maglia rosa and a day of rest for my legs to recover and (for) my shoulder injury."

Aru's Astana teammate, Paolo Tiralongo, claimed his fourth professional victory and his third in the Giro, clocking nearly six hours on the undulating 134-mile leg from Benevento to San Giorgio del Sannio, which featured two category two climbs either side of a category one ascent.

Tom-Jelte Slagter had led for much of the day before Tiralongo caught him within the final 5 miles, and the Italian attacked shortly afterward to ride solo to victory.

Steven Kruijswijk was second, 21 seconds behind Tiralongo, with Simon Geschke two seconds further back.

"Today my team worked really well," Tiralongo said. "I was in the right break. My work should have been to wait for my teammates on the final climb but things didn't go exactly like that.

"It was an unexpected win. I got the green light to go from my team car and I did the last five kilometers at 100 percent. I caught Slagter in the last hard final climb and I kept hard at it until the finish line."

Contador, who dislocated his shoulder in a fall on the final sprint on Thursday, came through Saturday's first major test in the mountains and was able to cope with his injury again a day later.

He will be grateful for the first rest day of the Giro on Monday, before a mainly flat 124-mile leg from Civitanova Marche to Forli the following day.

The 98th Giro ends on May 31 in Milan.

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