Contador not conceding but says ‘chapeau’ to Froome
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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Contador not conceding but says ‘chapeau’ to Froome

by Kyle Moore at 2:56 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
“There’s really not much more you can say”

Alberto ContadorHe is unlikely to completely admit that he has been beaten until he is not allowed to take the top step of the podium in Paris, but Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) accepted that maillot jaune Chris Froome (Sky Procycling) is unquestionably the strongest rider in the Tour de France, as he continues to zero in on the final yellow jersey at the race’s conclusion.

With a week gone by since the last true climbing test in the Tour, and with Froome having lost over a minute in crosswinds during the week, some had begun to wonder if the overall leader would be the dominant force that he showed last weekend. Froome answered those questions by winning atop Mont Ventoux on Sunday, taking out 30 seconds on runner up Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

Contador was sixth on the stage, but lost 1’40” to Froome, after being decisively blown off his wheel with still seven kilometres left to climb.

Froome bridged up to Quintana, and Contador moved up to Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi), but the leading duo continued to pull away from the Spanish duo behind them. The Spaniard’s overall deficit after the stage had ballooned from 2’45” to 4’25”.

“I had enough trouble climbing at my own pace as it were, so ‘chapeau’ to him,” Contador saluted to Froome post-stage. “There’s really not much more you can say. Froome is very strong.

“I’ve always been thinking about winning. That’s the goal, but every day, there is a head-to-head situation and he takes even more time. But we’ll see. In the Tour, you never know what will happen until Paris. Now I just think about recovering and enjoying the rest day. But going for second place is [still] secondary.”

Like many others, Contador suffered during the 220 kilometres that were raced leading into the Ventoux, many of which were made difficult by the pace-making of the Europcar and Movistar teams.

“It was a difficult stage, especially because it was very fast throughout the first half,” the Saxo-Tinkoff rider admitted. “We rode at an incredible pace because teams like Europcar wanted to put someone in the break and they failed. We arrived at the foot of Mont Ventoux with 220 kilometres in the legs and with that pace, we didn’t have much strength left.

“I was trying to follow Froome because I knew he had to be more attentive to Quintana. He knew that he had a chance because it was a single climb, and in a head-to-head [battle] with the rest, he would have the advantage.”

While gamely refusing to give up all hope, the former Tour winner admitted that it would take a large collapse for the yellow jersey to change hands. “I don’t think anyone can beat Froome uphill unless he has a bad day, but let’s see what happens in the Alps stages where the multiple climbs may cause damage to his team,” he insisted. “The Tour is not over until Paris, although the overall difference is already big.”

Saxo-Tinkoff director Fabrizio Guidi also tipped his cap to Froome but praised his own team as well, which is still on top in the teams classification.

“We sure witnessed quite a spectacularly fast stage and everyone saw that Froome was the strongest rider here today. However, our boys did a good job,” Guidi said. “They supported Alberto and we outnumbered all the other teams in the front group until Froome opened his vicious attack. We couldn’t have done the stage successfully any other way. However the race is not over. Froome shouldn’t be rest assured of the overall win just yet. There are still opportunities in this race and we’re highly motivated going for the overall win.”


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