As the Tour de France approaches its final five days, Discovery Channel team manager Johan Bruyneel is within striking distance of his eighth Tour de France win with Spaniard Alberto Contador. The 24 year-old is within two and a half minutes of the leader's maillot jaune with one heavy Pyrenean mountain stage and a time trial yet to be confronted. Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown visited the American squad in Pau, France to discovery its strategy.
As a day of rest in Southern France greeted the riders of the 94th Tour de France, Discovery Channel enjoyed some relaxing moments in its Villa Navarre hotel in Pau - after a leisurely 90-minute ride, of course. The sun released its warmth on the villa's manicured gardens while the tall doors were left open to allow a gentle breeze into the wood-floored sitting room where the riders joked about and communicated with their families via phone or internet.
Team director Johan Bruyneel is happy with Alberto Contador's second position on general classification, in addition to the Spaniard's stage win from Plateau de Beille, but he still has some goals in mind. Contador is only one step away from the Tour's top spot and his Belgian director would like his rider to vie for the team's eighth Tour win, tagging onto the seven Lance Armstrong (1999-2005) has already brought to the squad. Bruyneel came to the Tour with American Levi Leipheimer as the intended leader but it was Contador who rode into a commanding position after the transitional stages towards the Pyrénées.
"I do not think about much else, then riding my best," said a quietly spoken Contador. He is not worried specifically about maillot jaune Michael Rasmussen but, rather, sees him as another competitor. "I am in the race and I want to fight against them all, Rasmussen also. "He is a climber like me so it is difficult to make a difference with him."
Contador received a confidence boost with his ability to put Rabobank's Michael Rasmussen on the ropes while the two battled up the Col de Peyresourde. "After the stage yesterday I feel stronger, especially compared to Plateau de Beille stage," he revealed. "I felt I had him in trouble a couple of times. I think that Rasmussen will have thought about the difficulties.
"He is a climber and in good shape," noted Contador. "It will be difficult. I think that if I start with one minute behind then I stand a chance. I think it will depend on the day, if I am good and if he is bad."
To read the full interview with the Discovery Channel team, click here.