Liège completes early season preparations
Alberto Contador has expressed his delight with Alexandre Vinokourov's Liège-Bastogne-Liège victory overnight, making it a great day for the Astana team, which had two men in the top 10.
Vinokourov's star teammate hit out with an attack before the man who took third overall in the 2003 Tour de France showed his trademark kamikaze style off the front of the bunch in the last 145km.
He held off fellow escapee Alexandr Kolobnev to secure his first win in the event for five years. "It was impressive, I'm happy that Vino won, it's as if I had won," said Contador after congratulating his teammate on the finish line in Ans.
"It was the result of team work and I'm very happy," he continued. "We had talked before the start that we had two options: mine was through attacking on the St. Nicholas or Roche aux Faucons."
Of his tactics late in the race, Contador explained: "I started a little late - I got to go with Andy Schleck, but we were caught and when Vino went, I really tried to slow it down, especially with the Schleck brothers and Joaquim Rodriguez [in the group].
"I saw that Vino was very strong and was very touched listening to how they cheered him on the radio. When I heard that he had won, I was very happy," he added.
Contador paid tribute to Astana's team work, noting that it was a complete effort. "We had two good chances of winning and when Vino went ahead it was clear to me: I had to do what Saxo Bank did with Andy Schleck last year. The result was perfect."
Despite looking good throughout the race and displaying strong form after a solid Ardennes campaign, Contador admitted that there were a few hiccups with today's performance, however. "I have great taste in my mouth after these [Ardennes] races, but today I noticed a lot more allergies than in the Fléche [Wallonne], although I saved the day because I had good sensations.
"I only gave a hint of cramps cresting St. Nicklas and in the last 500 metres of the race. In these two place I preferred to regulate my pace because I thought I could stay cramped."
Having stated that the Ardennes Classics were vital preparation for the defense of his Tour de France title, Contador issued an omnious warning to his rivals come July: "In every race I have been contesting or even winning, and in those I haven't, as here in Liège, [I've focused on] doing a great job. The first part of the season has been superb."
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