Spaniard says 2010 race harder than last year's
Defending Tour de France champion Alberto Contador wrapped up a four-day reconnaissance of the critical Pyrenean stages of this year's race, stating, "We've seen the stages that will decide the Tour."
Contador rode all four stages with seven of his teammates who make up the Astana team's pre-selection for the race: Dmitri Fofonov, Paolo Tiralongo, Benjamin Noval, Daniel Navarro, David de la Fuente, Jesus Hernandez and Oscar Pereiro
Stages 14 through 17 of the Tour will take place in the Pyrenees, with the first day ending on Ax-3 Domaines, then two mountainous days without hilltop finishes before the second rest day followed by the race's grande mountain finale atop the famed Col de Tourmalet.
Contador called the Tourmalet finish "the last chance of victory for the climbers" and said the race should be almost decided after this stage.
During his reconnaissance, Contador happened to meet some of his main competitors at the top of the Tourmalet: brothers Andy and Frank Schleck of the Saxo Bank team, who had climbed from the opposite direction from the Col de Soulor.
With little more than one month before the Tour de France, the Astana captain said he is satisfied with his form, but has not yet reached his peak. "The [sensations] are good, yes, but not yet like those of the Tour, because there are still three and a half weeks before the start and this is not a good time, it is still a time of allergies, and that limits me a little," Contador said.
He will compete in the Dauphiné Libéré beginning this weekend before topping off his pre-Tour preparations with a preview of the Alpine stages.
"I'm doing the preparation as I wanted," Contador said. "After a serious stop after the Classics (about 10 days off the bike) it was hard to start again, but everything has gone as planned. I'll do the Dauphiné without pressure, as a tune-up, because the preparation is perfect," he said.
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