Disappointed with Alpe d’Huez performance, Contador hoping to have better legs today
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Friday, July 19, 2013

Disappointed with Alpe d’Huez performance, Contador hoping to have better legs today

by VeloNation Press at 5:26 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
“It was a good opportunity for the Tour victory, but the legs didn’t respond”

Alberto ContadorAlberto Contador had hoped to make a real attack on Chris Froome’s yellow jersey yesterday, but instead the Spaniard conceded more time to the Briton when he was dropped on the Alpe d’Huez climb.

Just two mountain stages remain in the Tour de France and while Froome also showed signs of difficulty on the Alpe, being distanced by Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Contador knows that he can’t exploit any wavering unless he can himself bounce back.

“It is a tough stage,” he said of today’s race to Le Grand Bornand, “and we have to see how the weather is. It has Glandon and Madeleine in the beginning and it will be really hard. I’ll have to see how I go. And on Saturday there is a very hard summit finish.”

He’s clear that yesterday was a missed chance. “It was a good opportunity for the Tour victory, but the legs didn’t respond,” he said. “From the very beginning I had a some heaviness in my legs. In the end, I had a bit of dehydration.”

The stage was initially expected to be run off in very bad weather, with rain forecast for the climbs of Alpe d’Huez and the descent of the Col de Sarenne. Contador said that the thoughts of that motivated him a lot as he believed he would ride well in those conditions, but that things turned out much hotter and more humid than predicted.

Following the first ascent of Alpe d’Huez, he and team-mate Roman Kreuziger attacked on the descent of the Col de Sarenne. They opened a thirty second lead over Froome and his Sky team, but were brought back before the start of the final climb.

One issue was the hard chasing of Nairo Quintana’s Movistar team. The second was that Contador clearly wasn’t on a good day. Speaking about the move, he played it down somewhat.

“I wouldn’t say it was an attack, it was only to go ahead of the group because we went calmly and without taking any risks,” he said. “Yes, we took some time, but we knew we needed more people with us and nobody came. So the smartest thing was to stop and wait for the group because Movistar had been organized [in chasing] behind.”

Visibly less strong than on other days, Contador got into difficulty in the first half of the climb of Alpe d’Huez and was distanced. That may well have marked the end of his already fading chances of victory in this year’s race, with a big performance being necessary to get time back on Froome.

Instead, he finished 53 seconds behind the Maillot Jaune, and dropped two minutes and three seconds to Quintana. His performance was a far sight from his Tour-winning form of 2007 and 2009, but he’ll try to turn things around today or tomorrow.

Now five minutes and eleven seconds behind Froome, he is just 21 seconds clear of a very strong Quintana. Contador is a proud rider and will battle on between now and the end of Saturday’s stage. However after the questions raised yesterday, his recovery from the Alpe d’Huez weakness will determine if he will shake up the race or simply limit his losses.


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