Contador knows Tour de France GC is still a long shot
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Friday, July 12, 2013

Contador knows Tour de France GC is still a long shot

by Kyle Moore at 3:30 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Happy to gain some time back but acknowledges attacking in the Alps will be a must

Alberto ContadorIt would take the infliction of much more damage to maillot jaune Chris Froome and his Sky Procycling troops to wrestle the jersey away from him, but Alberto Contador and Saxo-Tinkoff landed several body blows to Froome on Friday’s stage 13 of the Tour de France.

Saxo-Tinkoff stepped on the gas pedal in the crosswinds that wrote the entire story of the stage, and when all was said and done, Contador had gained back 1’09” of the deficit he faced to Froome prior to the stage. The Spaniard’s disadvantage had stood at 3’54”, but is now down to 2’45”. Saxo-Tinkoff’s efforts also moved Contador up to third place overall, and team-mate Roman Kreuziger up to fourth, after Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) broke a wheel and was dropped, eventually losing ten minutes.

After Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Belkin did much of the work earlier in the stage to put everyone in difficulty, Saxo-Tinkoff followed the guidance of veterans Michael Rogers, Daniele Bennati, and Matteo Tossato to force a final decisive split, which caught out the yellow jersey and formed a group of less than 15 riders who took it 32 kilometres all the way to the finish.

Contador and Kreuziger were two of the main beneficiaries. While initially not desiring to put his friend and compatriot Valverde any further behind, once the Movistar rider was well and truly distanced, Contador jumped on the chance to inflict some pain on Froome.

“I’m very happy with today’s stage. If someone had told me before the start that we were going to gain 1’10” on the leader, I would not have believed it,” Contador admitted. “The team was simply extraordinary. At first we remained calm because Alejandro Valverde had a mishap and we decided not to take the lead, but in the end we noticed that several riders were in trouble while my team was very strong, so we decided to go for it. Bennati attacked the first kilometre like a motorbike, and the group shattered into a thousand pieces. There was a time that we were only at 10 seconds ahead, but I have to say ‘chapeau’ to all my team-mates because they have demonstrated the Saxo-Tinkoff team spirit.”

While it was advantageous for him to finally put Froome on the back foot, Contador acknowledged that Froome’s time loss was relatively minor as of yet in the grand scheme of things. The Spaniard knows he will still need to find a way to use the Alps to his advantage as well.

“To be at 3’57” or 2’45” does not change much in the overall,” he continued. “We are still forced to go on the attack in the Alps. The Tour is still difficult, but not yet finished, and a thousand things can happen. For now, we have to rest, because tomorrow is another day. I’m very happy with my team and the show we pulled off. It has been immense. We have shown that we all have the same goal in mind – to fight for victory – and it sure has been a great day for Saxo-Tinkoff.”

Even though they were outmanned in the final 30 kilometres – Froome’s group had three to four teams helping with the chase – the smaller group ahead, powered by Saxo-Tinkoff, was able to put time into them. This will certainly add to the team’s morale, according to team director Fabrizio Guidi.

“We knew this stage offered the opportunity to attack, but it wasn’t until the final 30 kilometres that the right moment occurred for us,” Guidi stated. “That was the moment where we hoped to be able to keep up the pressure to the finish line, and our strong team around Alberto managed to gain one minute on Froome in this flat stretch, and I’m really proud to have been part of today’s effort. It provides us with a boost in morale, and now the guys know they can make the difference.

“There is still one half of the race left. For that reason, we have to stay calm and focused. There are difficult stages coming up and we have to stay one move ahead of everyone.”

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