Alberto Contador didn't win the first mountain stage of the Tour de France despite many people's expectations, but he is not considering his fifth place finish in Avoriaz at the end of stage 8 to be a defeat.
"He's satisfied with himself, with his team and with seeing that the outlook is getting brighter for the GC," said Astana Team Manager Yvon Sanquer. Contador and his Astana squad eliminated several rivals from the status of potential GC contenders in the race's first mountaintop finish of 2010.
The Frenchman argued that the flat finish in Avoriaz following the hard part of the climb where Contador's Astana teammate Daniel Navarro had concluded his incredible pace-setting work, wasn't suitable for Contador to repeat an uphill finish victory like the one he took atop l'Alpe d'Huez during the Dauphiné last month.
"Alberto probably wanted to win the stage today. He's a little bit disappointed. He struggled to breathe in the final climb," said Sanquer. Contador confirmed that his breathing wasn't as good as usual.
"Everybody has seen that our Astana team rode at the front all the time," said Contador. "The headwind affected us in the finale. The team has been extraordinary and has done a great work."
Complimenting one of his top rivals and the day's stage winner, Contador said, "Andy Schleck has done really well. He's a rider who caused me some troubles last year as well. He surprised me when he started sprinting, so I decided to wait a little bit for the other riders, who were coming from behind. I've lost a few seconds but I felt good."
Contador probably didn't want to take the yellow jersey after only one week of racing. To be in third position, 1:01 down on new race leader Cadel Evans and 41 seconds down on Schleck, is ideal for the defending champion at this stage of the Tour de France.