Alberto Contador’s Tour de France bid will not hinge on today’s meek performance in the individual time trial at the Critérium du Dauphiné but it will leave his rivals with renewed optimism ahead of the grand depart in Corisca.
Contador suffered one of his worst days against the clock on the 32 kilometre stretch between Villars-les-Dombes and Parc des Oiseaux, conceding 3:37 to stage winner Tony Martin but more importantly 2:44 to his chief Tour de France rival Chris Froome. To compound matters, the multiple Grand Tour winner had to suffer the indignity of seeing his former domestique Richie Porte sweep by him with four kilometres left to race. He blamed his performance on allergies.
"That was not a good day and I saw I had no power. I tried to keep a steady cadence at the end, but it’s always the same in Dauphiné in the long time trial. I never feel good and I always lose time," he said at the finish.
Contador may need to check the history books as his time trialing has been far from consistent since his all conquering performance at the 2009 Tour de France.
In his last outing at the Dauphiné in 2010 he finished 6th on the stage, 1:46 down on stage winner Janez Brajkovic but held on to take a podium in the race. A year earlier he finished fifth in the 42 kilometre test.
In recent years he has blown hot and cold against the clock with another below par performance coming at the Worlds last September. He did perform well at the Vuelta last year, winning the overall and performing well against the clock despite a year without racing due to a doping ban.
"I have to have confidence," he added.
"There were some difficult moments for me, because of the allergies. Finishing so far behind? It's not very important, of course if I finish in front of him (Froome), it’s better, but I know that the Dauphiné is the Dauphiné and the Tour is the Tour. These allergies should have finished by then. It’s also good that the time trial is a long way into the race, so I'll continue to work hard."