Alberto Contador poised to claim Giro
SESTRIERE, Italy -- Alberto Contador closed in on his second Giro d'Italia title Saturday, comfortably keeping his lead during a next-to-last stage won by Vasili Kiryienka of Belarus after a solo breakaway.
Contador finished eighth to maintain his lead of 5 minutes, 18 seconds over second-place Michele Scarponi in the overall standings. Vincenzo Nibali is third, 6:14 behind.
It will take a mishap for the Spaniard or a massive effort by Italians Scarponi or Nibali in the 19.5-mile individual time trial around the streets of Milan on Sunday to prevent Contador from winning.
"It was a very long day and very tiring," Contador said. "I wanted to stay near Scarponi and Nibali, be ready for the finish and see if I could take some points off them."
Kiryienka rode alone for most of the 20th stage and finished the 150-mile ride from Verbania to Sestriere in 6 hours, 17 minutes, 3 seconds. Jose Rujano was second, 4:43 behind, with Joaquin Rodriguez third in 4:49.
Kiryienka was part of a large breakaway group that took the initiative early. He eventually attacked on the twisting road up the 7,145-foot climb to Colle delle Finestre.
He led the way as the tarmac gave way to gravel and he finished the climb with a lead of 3:50 before the descent down similarly testing conditions.
"Today was a pretty good day for me and my team," Kiryienka said. "It was very satisfying to win with such a big break."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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