Alberto Contador smiles from the podium after his Astana team won the team time trial stage.
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Spanish star anticipates mountain showdown
His lesson learnt from the events of stage three, Alberto Contador ensured he made the split at the front of peloton when it accelerated savagely during the windy journey from Le Cap d'Agde to Perpignan yesterday. His vigilance helps keep him high on the general classification, something that has the Spaniard anticipating the start of the Pyrenees.
"The situation is very good. If they had said to me before the Tour started that I was going to come to Barcelona with the differences that are apparent in the overall, I wouldn't have believed it," Contador told reporters after stage five.
And with all the talk surrounding his standing as Astana's number one for the overall classification, a Spanish sojourn could be the perfect tonic for Contador, who is a popular figure in his homeland.
"I'll certainly enjoy going to Spain and meeting my fans. It's always agreeable to return to your country and to meet your relatives, because there will be many people coming to see me," he explained.
Contador is hoping that today's stage is free of the manic activity that characterised stages three and five, where high tempos caused splits in the field that drained many of the riders. He's got one eye on the arrival of the Tour in the mountains - his type of terrain - and it couldn't come quickly enough for the slightly-built Spaniard.
"Especially I hope that it [today's stage] goes calmly because on the following day we have the first stage in the mountains," he said. "The arrival to Barcelona, in spite of the kilometres in the city, does not worry me because it has very broad avenues.
"I want to get there because the mountains are my territory; I'm feeling good but you always like to confirm that," he added.
Of the much-publicised dynamics between him and Lance Armstrong, Contador believes that it resembles nothing of the infamous duel between Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond in the 1986 Tour - it's quite the opposite, he assured reporters. "This is very different," he said.
Contador admits a win in Arcalis would obviously be good for his morale but was quite to add, "at the moment I prefer to think on getting through what awaits before then and, then, we will see in Andorra."
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