Contador on Mont Ventoux: From champion in 2009 to challenger in 2013
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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Contador on Mont Ventoux: From champion in 2009 to challenger in 2013

by VeloNation Press at 6:38 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Team Saxo Tinkoff leader clear that the Giant of Provence could shake Tour right up

Alberto ContadorHe’s already won a Tour de France with a strong ride on the climb but, four years after his triumph in 2009, Alberto Contador heads back to Mont Ventoux in a very different position.

Clothed head to toe in yellow on that earlier occasion, the Spaniard finished alongside his main rivals Andy Schleck and Lance Armstrong, sealing his overall win in the race.

He looked then as being a rider who would dominate the Tour for many years but, having lost his subsequent 2010 win due to a Clenbuterol positive, has not taken yellow to Paris since.

Indeed, he is yet to reach that 2009 level of form again, and has appeared much more mortal this year.

The Team Saxo Tinkoff rider built his entire season around being at a peak for the 2013 Tour and winning again but as the race heads towards the final week, he is sitting back in third overall. Chris Froome (Sky) is in the driving seat, with Bauke Mollema (Belkin) two minutes 28 seconds back, and Contador a further 17 seconds behind.

It means that he will have a very different priority on Sunday than in 2009, when he simply had to follow rather than to lead.

He’s ready for battle, and knows it is going to be a difficult day. “Tomorrow will be a hard stage because of the amount of kilometres and because the Mont Ventoux is a legendary mountain.

“The climb can be divided into two parts. The first is very steep and takes you through dense vegetation but the second part is windy, usually a headwind. I guess tomorrow’s race will see a break until the start of the climb and many attacks in the race, for example by Movistar. I will have to see how the legs go and what tactics other teams use.”

Contador had been almost four minutes back but bounced back somewhat during Friday’s thirteenth stage, when he and Mollema broke clear in crosswinds and regained over a minute on Froome. While he still has a considerable amount of time to make up, the psychological boost of the time gain is significant, and so too the fact that Froome’s Sky team is understrength due to fluctuating performances and two injury-provoked withdrawals.

If Contador has recovered from his exertions Friday, he will have a platform to put in an assault on Froome’s lead. He believes the climb is sufficiently tough to shake things up.

“The first part is very hard and the last five kilometres are easier if you sit on the wheel, but is a climb where if you have a bad day you can lose many minutes,” he warned.

“I think there will be a fast race. We have to see how long it takes for the break to form, because everyone will want to catch it, and then will see if there are teams that want to fight for the stage win, including Movistar.

“If not, there will be two races, one for the stage and another for the general classification. Everyone will do his race, although there may be circumstances when you can benefit and work together with other riders. But I don’t see alliances in advance.”

Mentally, he’s ready to give it everything to try to turn the general classification around. As for physically, he’s got his fingers crossed that his body has recovered from Friday, and is ready to go deep again.

“Tomorrow I think there will be many attacks…I hope the legs work well.”

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