SAINT-NAZAIRE, France (AFP) — Alberto Contador admitted on Monday that his position on the first rest day of this year’s Tour de France
is not ideal but he remains hopeful that nothing will be decided until the third and final week of the race.
Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) is tied for fifth in the overall standings, 1:51 behind yellow jersey wearer Chris Froome (Sky). On Sunday night, he and his Saxo teammates traveled north from the Pyrénées to rest up at La Baule, just up the Atlantic coast from Nantes.
There, the two-time Tour winner explained the reasons why he did not try to peg back some time on Froome during Sunday’s stage from Saint-Girons to Bagneres-de-Bigorre, despite the evident shortcomings among the Kenya-born Briton’s teammates.
“On the last climb I didn’t think that it made much sense to attack,” Contador said of the Cat. 1 ascent to La Hourquette d’Ancizan. “At the summit of the last ascent there were still another 30 kilometers to go to the finish and there were still a lot of riders in the group.
“I thought I would be better off saving myself for the time trial,” he added, with one eye on Wednesday’s 11th stage from Avranches to Mont-Saint-Michel.
Froome remains out in front despite being left utterly alone during Sunday’s stage as all of his teammates were dropped, including Australian Richie Porte, who disappeared from sight after a superb ride 24 hours earlier. A day after helping Froome and Porte to a 1-2 finish at Ax 3 Domaines, Vasil Kiryienka missed the time cut on Sunday.
Contador Spaniard does not expect to see Sky repeat its mistakes in the days to come.
“It is always good to see that his team has weaknesses, but that will not become a habit,” he said. “What happened yesterday surprised more than a few people. If that happens again, we will need to take advantage.
“Yesterday was not the day but I hope we will take advantage in the Alps.
“I would prefer to be where Froome is, especially before the time trial, which will favor him.”
With the exception of Wednesday’s individual time trial, the coming week is unlikely to change much in the battle for the yellow jersey, but Contador, 30, hopes the final week, when the peloton hit the Alps, will see the situation turn in his favor.
Then, he hopes Froome will fade, just as he did during last year’s Vuelta a España, when he finished fourth overall as Contador emerged victorious with a late-race siege.
“My condition is not brilliant but I improve every day in the grand tours,” said Contador. “I feel my best in the third week. Froome is very strong, but we saw during the Vuelta last year that he struggled in the third week, so we need to wait and not think that it’s impossible.
“Of course I am going to try something. We need to know when to take risks, especially when everyone is struggling.”