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Contador plays the team game on stage 19

By:
Sadhbh O'Shea
Published:
July 20, 2013, 3:25 BST,
Updated:
July 20, 2013, 5:45 BST
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, July 20, 2013
Race:
Tour de France
Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff)

Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff)

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Spaniard helps Saxo-Tinkoff protect team classification lead

Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) has been one of the few riders to take the race to leader Chris Froome and try to crack the Tour de France leader, despite being over five minutes down on the Sky rider.

Yesterday Contador sent teammates up the road and decided to make his escape on the descent of the Col de Sarenne, but in stage 19 today the Spaniard seemed unusually quiet. As the peloton wound its way from Bourg-d'Oisans to Le Grand-Bornand, the Saxo-Tinkoff rider stayed safely in its clutches for much of the day.

When the stage reached its crucial final ascent, he allowed Movistar to throw down the gauntlet with both Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana riding off the front. "There was a moment when I thought to attack, because the rain is good for me," Contador said. "But we decided the best thing was to stay together."

Contador is not known for taking a back seat in races and has often said he'd prefer to finish far down the general classification than finish second. It was used to great effect at last year's Vuelta a España when he a attacked Joaquim Rodríguez on what was meant to be a transition day, to win the stage and the race out right. His attacks haven't paid off this time around, which has generally been put down to a lack of form coming into the race.

With the heavens opening above the peloton, Contador decided against a do or die move on the final descent. "I didn't want to attack, because behind the TV there are people who love me and get nervous when I attack on a descent. Also, the descent was not great and it was better to be calm and stay together."

In addition to the second place overall that Contador still holds onto, the Saxo-Tinkoff is leading the team competition. The points earned from the team competition could prove crucial when WorldTour licences are given out at the end of the season, even more so with the number of points being the sole deciding factor.

"My team was doing a great job, controlling for the team classification," Contador explained. "If I attacked I could cause Roman Kreuziger to unhook."

Contador hasn't completely given up on trying to put some time into Froome and the other main contenders, but it will "all depend on how the legs are."

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