An historic race, an historic site, and time will tell if this victory will prove historic for a resurgent Alberto Contador. breaking away in the last two kilometres from a last-ditch challenge by Italy's Diego Ulissi, to sprint the last 800 metres to the finish, the Spaniard added a second victory to his first campaign returning from a two-year doping ban.
The Milan-Turin one-day race on top of the Superga hill in Turin was once Italy's most prestigious race, it's certainly the oldest having first been staged in 1876, however this is the first year the race has featured since 2007 signalling the surge in worldwide interest in sports events of the two-wheeled variety. The Superga hill is famous for the scene of a plane crash in May 1949 that wiped out the great Torino football team of the era. The Torino team had won four successive Italian league titles from 1946-49.
The 29 year old Spaniard enjoys a renaissance having served his time on the sidelines. While Lance Armstrong's reputation took a nosedive last month, one that will never recover, his one-time great rival got the first victory of his cycling career 2.0 under his belt with victory at the Tour of Spain. Having tested positive for traces of clenbuterol in 2010, he was subsequently stripped of his 2010 Tour de France and Giro d'Italia 2011 titles. While unlike Armstrong, the Spaniards teammates stood beside him, the authorities refused to believe his defence that he ate contaminated meat and was banned.
After crossing the line, Contador dedicated his victory to fellow Spaniard Victor Cabedo, who died in a training accident last week. "I dedicate my win to all of my teammates and to someone who has been in my thoughts since the World Championships, Victor Cabedo," he said. "Wherever he may be, this win is for him."
Back in the saddle, Contador is leaner, more mature athlete. His time out seems to have concentrated the mind and the gifted climber has shown a real hunger since returning. Far from the dominant machine of old he has had to scrap tooth and nail for every victory. Contador has always been the king of the steep slopes and he proved he still has the legs to attack his rivals in the climb at the Vuelta a Espana last month.
Contador is well and truly back and with next month's official presentation of the parcours for the 2013 Tour de France set to feature fewer time trials and more hill climbs than this year's race, an in-form Conatador is bound to be one of the favourites. Next weekends Giro di Lombardia will provide further evidence of the Spaniard's form, if it were needed.
By Hugo Mc Cafferty