A tough day for Contador at Paris-Nice
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Friday, March 12, 2010

A tough day for Contador at Paris-Nice

by Neil Browne at 2:56 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Nice

Stage five of Paris-Nice was a tough day in the saddle for defending Tour de France champion Alberto Contador. Although the Astana leader retained the yellow jersey, he was left isolated in the run up to the finish crossing the line in tenth place.

“It was like a Tour stage, but one of the hard ones”, said Contador after the stage.

The high speeds of the peloton made controlling the bunch difficult for the Astana team.

“You have to be super attentive and there was a moment where I had to answer to an attack because they were by Joaquin Rodriguez, [ Roman] Kreuziger and Luis Leon [Sanchez ].

"There are many riders within a few seconds and it is very difficult to control. Although I wear the yellow jersey now, I will not take the whole responsibility [of race leadership] because neither my team nor I can, ” he admitted.

Contador said his team “has done what it could".   He continued, "The stage seemed for the sprinters, but that wasn't the case at all. It has been a very hard stage and almost impossible to control, since at 100 kilometers a break still hadn't been formed yet.”

While Contador says he's feeling fine, he alludes to the fact that the Astana squad might be stretched to the maximum. “[I'm] feeling good, but in this race you need a very, very strong team to keep it under control, it is a race that is easier to win by counter-attacking than by being defensive. Tomorrow will be very difficult and I will not take more responsibility than me and my team can handle.”

With rivals Joaquin Rodriguez, Roman Kreuziger, Alejandro Valverde, as well as defending Paris-Nice champion Luis Leon Sanchez less than 30 seconds behind, Contador knows that he has to be on guard to stop the likely flurry of attacks.

“I wish this was a duel between just Valverde and me. Tomorrow the race will start again, although I think Sunday’s stage will be in my favor. If I keep yellow tomorrow, I would prefer that it was the last stage, but depending on what happens, I can also play my cards on Sunday,” he said.

Saturday's stage six is the longest at 220 kilometers and includes a category one climb which summits 33 kilometers from the finish. Littered throughout the stage are a total of seven category two and three climbs. It was during last year's stage six where Contador bonked and lost the overall lead to Caisse d'Epargne's Sanchez.


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