Spanish star says the 2011 Tour de France isn’t his biggest battle
Alberto Contador looked relaxed and not obsessed about winning the Tour de France for the fourth time, as he talked to reporters during the second rest day in the province of the Drôme.
“I’ll try to win this race but this is not the biggest fight of my career," the Saxo Bank-SunGard rider said. “I’m easy in my mind because I’ve already delivered great results this year.”
Contador admitted that winning the Giro d'Italia has affected his physical potential at the Tour de France. “I’m not as fresh as I was at the Giro,” he said. “I’m not at the same level as I was at the Giro, and the Tour de France is also a different race. The Giro was a very exciting race with many possibilities to attack. At the Tour, there are many kilometres between the climbs. It reduces the possibilities to attack.”
But Contador was prompt to remind that his crashes have affected him more than riding the Giro. “As my right knee was hurt, I was forced to compensate with the other leg and it wasn’t my natural pedalling style,” he explained. “However, I’m feeling better and better. I’m confident that I’ll go better in the Alps than in the Pyrenees.”
He described the three decisive days in the Alps before the time trial of Grenoble on Saturday. “Stage 17 to Pinerolo will depend on the weather conditions,” Contador warned. “If they’re bad, the final descent [of Pra Martino where Danilo Di Luca went on to win a stage at the 2009 Giro d’Italia] will be dangerous. Stage 18 to the Galibier is very hard, that’s where I’ll need to have a good rhythm. Stage 19 to l’Alpe d’Huez is very short. Everyone knows l’Alpe ’Huez…
“With the overall classification that we have now, I wouldn’t win the Tour de France in the last time trial, so I have to attack somewhere to beat [Thomas] Voeckler and [Cadel] Evans,” he continued. “Without the crash that delayed me on day , I could have waited for the time trial, not now.”
But he underlined that all the race favourites are tired after two weeks of racing. “This is probably the hardest Tour I’ve done so far,” he said. “We all have spent a lot of energy at the beginning, that’s why the race is like that [with no real strong offensive] in the mountains. In the Alps, climbs are longer and culminate at a higher altitude. Things have to change.”
Contador refused to reveal his preference of who he’d like to be the winner, shall he not be able to be the one this year. At the Giro, he also never answered the questions of Italian journalists who wanted to know if he liked Michele Scarponi or Vincenzo Nibali to be the runner up.
“Every day that passes, people wonder which card the Schleck brothers will play,” Contador added. “If they wait for Paris, it’ll be too late. They know which one is the strongest. One has to sacrifice himself for the other one.”
The Spaniard added his name to the list of those who consider Voeckler as a potential winner of the Tour de France. “He’s got an incredible form and it’ll be hard to throw him out of first place. Without any doubt, he’s a candidate for the overall victory. He’s a favourite at the same level as Evans right now,” Contador said.
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