Tondo strong in TT and takes race lead, but cautious heading into final stage
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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tondo strong in TT and takes race lead, but cautious heading into final stage

by Shane Stokes at 3:44 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Spaniard taking nothing for granted

Xavier TondoHe hasn’t previously been on a similar level to Alberto Contador in time trials but today’s fine third place effort by Xavier Tondo, just three seconds slower than his compatriot, surprised many and puts him perfectly placed going into tomorrow’s final 167 kilometre stage. The Spaniard overtook race leader Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) in the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, beating him by 12 seconds in the TT and ended the day nine seconds clear in the general classification.

“When I saw the time trial this morning I liked it apart from the beginning, which was very technical and there I did not risk anything,” he said. “The rest went pretty well. As we went onto the main road, I saw that I had good legs; I have felt those feelings that sometimes, as I did in Paris-Nice, I am not quite sure why [it happens some days].

“In so short a time trial you have to go flat out, but the time checks and the information you get from the car is very important. My director Jaimerena and I work very well together.”

Tondo has previously won races such as a stage in Paris-Nice, a stage in the Volta a Catalunya and the overall in the Tour of Portugal, but a last stage defeat in this year’s Tour de San Luis has made him nervous. He’s taking nothing for granted.

“I want to be very cautious because I have been many times on the verge of winning a tour, but each time I’ve lost on the last day and tomorrow I am sure will be a difficult day,” he said. “The wind is going to crop up and the Dutch [ie the Rabobank team – ed.] are specialists at that. The finale appears to be quite complicated, with constant changes of direction and that is going to make it more difficult. The team is phenomenal and that gives me confidence, but until I cross the finish line I don’t want to proclaim victory.”

Still, he draws encouragement from how he felt during the race against the clock. That encourages him that he can pull off a big win. “I am not a specialist, but if I have a good day like today, I've shown many times that I'm ahead. Let's see if tomorrow I can give the win to my team-mates because coincidentally we have almost the same team as for the Tour de San Luis and in the end we missed out on the victory.”

If he manages to pull it off, it would exorcise the memories of that Argentinean race, where he got the hunger knock on the penultimate stage, crashed and then lost 15 minutes. He had been in the leader’s jersey and looked almost certain to win overall.

Tomorrow, he can put that right, and reward the team for its work and also its faith in signing him after the Cervélo Test Team stopped. For Xavier Tondo, the next step in his evolution as a stage race rider may be about to take place.


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