Contador consults the Oracle for cobble experience
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Monday, April 26, 2010

Contador consults the Oracle for cobble experience

by Ben Atkins at 9:22 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Spring Classics
 

alberto contadorAlthough the classics are now over, Tour de France champion Alberto Contador (Astana) has stayed in the north of Europe. The overwhelming favourite for this coming July’s race is there to learn how to ride the notorious pavé du Nord, and he has called upon the services Peter Van Petegem, of one of the most experienced men around for help. This morning Contador posted a picture of himself and the Flemish legend on Twitter, saying: “Here with Peter Van Petegem, a very good teacher for the pave.”

As he showed in last summer’s Tour, Contador is arguably the strongest climber in the peloton and can also match the best against the clock in a Grand Tour time trial. This superiority in both of the disciplines required to win the Tour de France gives his opponents very few opportunities to take time from the Spaniard. The best chance they have could well be in stage 3 between Wanze, Belgium and Arenberg-Porte du Hainaut, where the course takes in 13.2km of the notorious cobblestones crossed in Paris-Roubaix.

The last time the Tour de France crossed the notorious pavé was in 2004, when aggressive riding from Lance Armstrong’s US Postal Service team effectively spelled the end of the challenge of Iban Mayo. The Basque had been considered one of the big threats to Armstrong’s sixth successive Tour victory after a dominant win in the Dauphiné Libéré. The American team feared Mayo’s strength in the mountains but identified that the lightweight climber could be vulnerable in the flatter classics country.

Contador is eager to avoid the same fate befalling him in July this year. There were rumours that he might ride in this year’s Ronde van Vlaanderen to get experience on the cobbles, but instead he has called upon Van Petegem for help.

“De Peet” was one of the most proficient riders in cobbled races at the turn of the century, winning the Ronde van Vlaanderen in 1999 and 2003; the second of those victories was followed a week later by a win in Paris-Roubaix. He also won the Omloop Het Volk (now known as the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad) three times, and the Three Days of De Panne twice.

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