Contador has respect for the cobblestones, not fear
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Contador has respect for the cobblestones, not fear

by VeloNation Press at 3:13 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France

Today defending Tour de France champion Alberto Contador finished two days of riding the cobblestones with Belgian former professional and Classics specialist Peter Van Petegem.  The Spaniard has called on Van Petegem for help with navigating the pavé du Nord in preparation for stage three of the Tour de France, where race organizers have included 13.2 kilometers of cobblestones from Paris-Roubaix.

Van Petegem excelled in the cobbled races during his career, winning Paris-Roubaix, the Ronde van Vlaanderen twice, Omloop Het Volk (now known as the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad) three times, and the Three Days of De Panne twice.  Contador explored the the seven sectors of pavé included in stage three with the man from Brakel and was happy with the results.

"I do not fear, I respect the stage," Contador said in a press conference today. “It was essential to know and test the material and it has given me more confidence. I'm happy with how everything finished, I have good feelings about the behavior of the bike in the pavé sectors even though I am a little tired after Liege. I will go back home with a good taste.”

Many expect Contador to be vulnerable on the cobblestones in July, but he has shown he's determined to give himself the best chance he can for success.

"Yes, no doubt," he said when asked whether riding alongside the Belgian was important.  "Having been [on the cobbles] both yesterday and today with a great champion like him is a huge advantage.

"He gave me a lot of advice on how to ride on the pavé and about the material, etc. In these two days I learned more about the pavé than I have in my whole life. His advice will be very important."

"The last four sections are quite similar," he said when asked what he found most difficult. "There are stones with some curves that can be more complicated if it rains, but the last four sections are very similar [in difficulty]."

One of the things pointed out by Van Petegem was the importance of cadence when riding the pavé.  Contador was advised to slow his cadence to help him power over the cobblestones.  He was also given advice for his equipment setup, "the type of wheel, tire pressure" he explained - also tips on technique "the best places to enter the pavé, hand position".

The Spaniard agrees with others, including Lance Armstrong (RadioShack), that have said the Tour de France won't be won on stage three, but there is the potential to lose the race.  Similar to the cobbled Classics, the approach to the sectors will be fast and intense, with riders fighting for position to get to the front.  The two-time Tour winner compared the cobbles themselves to a windy stage, and doesn't think there will be time splits big enough to make a difference in the end.

When asked about the recent news that teammate Alexandre Vinokourov will be allowed to take part in this year's Tour de France he said: "It is a huge relief because he is a great rider, very experienced and very tough."

The Astana team was formed for the Kazakh rider when the Liberty Seguros team folded in the wake of the Operacion Puerto scandal.  Until yesterday, when Tour director Christian Prudohmme confirmed he would be allowed to participate, there were doubts about whether he would be permitted to start the race in Rotterdam.

Contador has put his trust in Vinokourov, who has an obvious influence on the team's decisions.  He is confident that he will be to undisputed leader for Astana in July:  "From the beginning we have always been clear and he has given me assurance. He will be [at the Tour de France solely] to help me with everything."

When asked, Contador said he expects to be at the start line of Paris-Roubiax in 2011: Yes, of course. The Forest of Arenberg is perfect for me and of course I will be at the start [laughs] ... Seriously, for the moment, I prefer to watch the race on television at home."


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