Alberto Contador is undoubtedly the best stage racer in cycling today, seemingly a class above the rest. His searing attacks on the final climbs of stages 8 and 9 of the Giro d'Italia have sent a clear message to the rest of the peloton. If they want to have a chance to win the Giro, they're going to have to find a way to get some serious time on Contador and they're going to have to be able to ride with him in the mountains to minimize the damage on the summit finishes that remain. Alberto has shown that so far nobody can hold his wheel in the mountains and the fact that he is also an excellent time trialist, perhaps as good as anybody in this race, does not bode well for the other contenders. AC will likely have to suffer an untimely flat or some Schleck-chain to lose the pink jersey. Unlike Lance Armstrong's formulaic approach to winning 7 Tours de France, Contador almost always races to win. He's exciting, he's impulsive, he's dynamic and opportunistic. He's everything that an international bike racing hero needs to be. I wish that I could root for him, but he just seems to be kind of a dick. As polarizing as Lance was/is, his leadership and charisma could not be overlooked. Contador doesn't seem to have too many friends. Perhaps if I spoke Spanish, Alberto might have more charm for me, but I just find it hard to warm up to him. I'm going to keep trying, because it looks like he'll dominate the sport for the next few years*.
*That is, if he doesn't face a 2-year doping ban starting next month, when the UCI/WADA appeals of the Spanish federation's findings in his clenbuteral case. Then, I won't have to try to like him for awhile.