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Contador fends off Astana assault to increase his lead

Alberto Contador survived an onslaught from rival team Astana to move closer to a second Giro d'Italia title as he finished yesterday's queen stage in Aprica in third place.

Spain's Contador started the day with a 2:35 lead and now has an advantage of four minutes two seconds over compatriot Mikel Landa (Astana), who won the 16th stage 38 seconds ahead of Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk.

Contador also ended the punishing 177-km mountain stage 38 seconds behind.

Astana leader Fabio Aru of Italy finished 2:51 off the pace and dropped to third overall, 4:52 behind Contador, who is looking to achieve a rare Giro/Tour de France double this season.

"It was a very hard day, an incredible stage.

"Cycling isn't mathematics: I had a puncture on the descent, Ivan Basso gave me a wheel, but ahead they were going at full speed, and it was impossible to close the gap immediately," said Contador.

"It was hard for me, but I'm very happy with the time gaps now. I would have liked to have helped Steven Kruijswijk, but it was not to be. To Mikel Landa, I can only say: chapeau.

"These are the stages that people remember."