Alberto Contador has returned to form after a winless 2013 season of podiums and near podiums with a strong performance at the WorldTour Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy. Contador (Spain/Tinkoff-Saxo) took a 2:08 lead over Nairo Quintana (Colombia/Movistar) into Tuesday’s final stage, a 9.1-km time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto, but surprisingly lost three seconds to the diminutive climber on the day.

Quintana’s Italian teammate Adriano Malori beat chrono masters Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland/Trek), Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain/Sky) and Tony Martin (Germany/Omega Pharma-QuickStep) to win Tuesday’s race against the clock. Malori also took the time trail honours at this year’s Tour de San Luis in Argentina.

Contador won both mountain stages of the 49th Tirreno-Adriatico, nipping Quintana by a second on Saturday’s climb up the Selva Rotondo and then gapping his Colombian rival by 1:51 in Sunday’s leg-breaking ascent of the Muro di Guardiagrele.

It’s Contador’s first stage race victory since returning from a clenbuterol suspension to win the 2012 Vuelta a Espana. He was also runner-up to Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland/Omega Pharma-QuickStep) in February’s Volta ao Algarve. Kwiatkowski had the T-A leader’s jersey for two stages before imploding on the climb before the Muro di Guardiagrele.

Quintana did well to stave off Contador’s Czech teammate Roman Kreuziger to hold onto second overall; in fact, the Colombian put two seconds into Kreuziger and stretched the gap to nine seconds.

Canada’s Svein Tuft didn’t finish the race after climbing off his bike during Monday’s stage.

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