Australian climbing specialist Matthew Lloyd admits the freedom he once enjoyed before a recent stage win at the Giro d’Italia will reduce his chances at this year’s Tour de France.
But that won’t stop the Omega Pharma rider from trying his luck over the next couple of stages in the French Alps.
Lloyd was one of a handful of riders who counter-attacked a leading group late Saturday in the 165.5km stage from Tournus to Les Rousses ski station.
Despite his efforts, Lloyd eventually resigned himself to being caught by the peloton after it became clear that Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel would go on to claim the stage win.
Lloyd eventually sat up, saving his energy for the coming days and trailed in 12:59 behind Chavanel, the new race leader.
The Australian admitted it was hard to be given the green light to leave the main peloton anyway, but said that being caught won’t stop him from trying again.
“I’m always trying to do different things but the French guys are pretty strong at the moment,” Lloyd told AFP at the end of the stage.
“At the start they didn’t really want to let me go and that’s obvious because you can’t be winning stages at the Giro and rock up at the Tour de France (expecting to be allowed to win).
“But that’s understandable. I’m cool with that … there’s always tomorrow.”
After the hot and humid seventh stage over a total of six climbs failed to tempt the yellow jersey contenders into battle, Sunday’s eighth stage which features two difficult category one climbs promises to be a thriller.
Chavanel now holds a 1 minute 25 seconds lead on Australian Cadel Evans, in second place, with fellow yellow jersey challenger Andy Schleck fourth at 1:55, reigning champion Alberto Contador sixth at 2:26 and seven-time champion Lance Armstrong 14th at 3:16.
Lloyd, a former teammate of Evans’ when the pair raced for Silence-Lotto, believes it could become another damp squib that could allow him to attack again.
“I think tomorrow is going to be similar,” he added. “But on the other hand for me it’s good — it’s another day to get a bit more creative.”
He is supposed to be working to help Omega Pharma’s overall contender Jurgen Van den Broeck score a top ten place.
But the Aussie says there is still room for his own ambitions.
“In reality there’s only so much you can do to try and get victories and do things like that, but it’s in these days that you’ve got to try,” he said.
Two-time runner-up Evans meanwhile looks strong so far.
Despite finishing 30th overall last year he is brimming with confidence after winning the world title last September and finishing top five in both the Tour of Spain, in 2009, and this year’s Tour of Italy.
Evans is doing his best to limit his losses to his rivals while trying to avoid the burden of having to defend the yellow jersey.
And Lloyd believes that after narrowly missing out on overall victory in both 2007 and 2008, his former teammate could have the edge.
“He (Evans) looks really good, he seems quite happy with his new team and they’re all working hard for him, which is good,” he said.
“So hopefully he has a good race, he’s looking really strong and it will be interesting to see.
“Winning the worlds last year and having continual success has given has been great for him.
“He’s definitely like most leaders in that the more confidence they get over the years the more flexible they become.”