Alberto Contador turned super-domestique Saturday, helping Saxo-Tinkoff teammate Michael Rogers climb into third overall on stage 7 of the Critérium du Dauphiné, high in the French Alps.
Seeing a rock-solid Team Sky, Contador and Rogers teamed up instead against Dennis Rohan (Garmin-Sharp), the impressive young Australian who was hanging in there, to bounce Rogers into third overall with one stage left in the important Tour de France warm-up.
“I worked thinking about my teammate [Rogers], pulling the group. The idea was to move him up to third, and I believe we achieved that,” Contador said Saturday. “They are always working for me, so today I had the opportunity. I wanted to enjoy a bit pulling at the front and it also served as some training.”
With Contador and Rogers swapping roles in Saturday’s stage, Rogers was able to pull ahead of Rohan. Rogers finished ninth at 16 seconds back, while Rohan ceded more than two minutes and dipped to ninth overall.
Rogers climbed into third, now 1:37 back of Chris Froome, while Contador settled into 10th, at 2:56 back.
Contador continues to downplay his somewhat flat performance in the Dauphiné.
First off, he’s suffering from allergies in thick pollen that’s blanketed much of France after a cold, wet winter and spring.
And second, Contador insists that the Dauphiné is a race he’s never taken a shine to. In fact, it’s one of the few stage races that he’s started that he’s never eventually won.
Contador said he’s right where he wants to be with three weeks to go before the start of the 2013 Tour.
“Everything’s going to plan. The legs are working good, where I want them to be, and I am sure that in the Tour, they will be even stronger,” Contador said. “The form is perfect, I’m arriving just where I want to be. I calculate that I am at 75 percent and I wouldn’t change a thing for the condition I have now.”
He blamed a terrible time trial Wednesday, when he finished a distant 61st at nearly three minutes behind Froome, on his bout with allergies.
He bounced back to finish second to Froome on Thursday, and promises to go on the attack in Sunday’s finale up the Risoul summit finish.
With cool temperatures and rain in the forecast, Contador vows to go out the Dauphiné with his head held high.
“[Saturday's] stage was totally secondary, so I am content in the form that I have right now, considering it’s not the best time of year for me for the allergies,” Contador said. “My condition is good, and I’m happy with my performance.
“We’ll see what happens tomorrow. My sensations are pretty good, and I feel comfortable on the climbs. Tomorrow it looks like rain, which typically favors me, so we’ll see what happens.”