The Tinkoff-Saxo Tour de France rest day press conference was forced into a car park due to inadequate space in the team hotel while temperatures nudged into the high 30s. Oleg Tinkov, Peter Sagan and Alberto Contador were presented to a mix of media and autograph-hungry fans, with personal press officer Jacinto Vidarte providing translation.
Earlier in the day, Team Sky released data numbers from Chris Froome’s stage-winning ride up La Pierre Saint Martin in an attempt to stem the innuendo surrounding the maillot jaune over the last week. “I’ve never had an issue with it,” Froome said of sharing the data.
“From the team’s point of view, I feel it’s our competitive advantage, so sharing a file here and there… people know that one of my most significant power files is already out there from Ventoux. So what will it change?”
When asked if he would be willing to also release his power data, despite the heat Contador coolly explained he would be happy to do so, offering the caveat that such files cannot be 100 per cent verified.
“I have no problem providing my data but it’s a question that is variable,” Contador said though his translator. “Sometimes people make calculations that are not real when they speak about my performance. I look at my SRM, and the data is very different from what they say. About Froome, everybody is questioning him and I think maybe it’s too much because the other day it was very disgusting what happened with a spectator throwing urine on him. I think we have to see an end to this kind of behaviour.”
While Contador was ok with releasing the power data, there was no word from the team if it will follow Sky’s precedent.
Contador, a two-time winner of the Tour, has avoided the level of scrutiny Froome has been under as the maillot jaune for the majority of this year’s Tour. Having won the Giro d’Italia in May with the ambition of winning the Tour and becoming the first rider since Marco Pantani in 1998 to do the "double", Contador is yet to show his best form at the race, and therefore have his performance scrutinised to the same degree as Froome.
“The object of the double is very difficult now,” Contador said of his chances for overall victory as he currently sits fifth overall, 4:23 down on Froome.
“I think I did something complicated but not only for this year because I don’t think I will try it again. In any case, I still think it’s possible. The Giro was very difficult and tough with Astana strong from the beginning. I arrived at the Tour and the level of my rivals has been very high, so all together the double remains a difficult task.”
Attack, attack, attack
Contador, the 2007 and 2009 Tour champion, was fourth in 2013 when Froome won the Tour de France but has twice gotten the better of the Team Sky man at both the 2012 and 2014 Vuelta a Españas.
In 2011 and 2013 an aggressive Contador was seen to attack at any moment to try for an unlikely overall victory, as he did with aplomb on stage 17 of the 2012 Vuelta to Fuente Dé, explaining that he is not racing to defend his GC position, only to wear yellow in Paris.
“I want to take any opportunity from now to the finish. My objective when I started this Tour was only the victory but I know that some riders, especially one, is very strong at this moment,” Contador said. “At the moment, I am not happy with the podium but having done the Giro, I look at my position in a different way.
“Yes that can happen but I will go day-by-day,” he said of a Fuente Dé style winning attack being replicated at the Tour. “I will take any opportunities and look at the peloton to see how tired it is and how my legs feel. Anything can happen at any moment including on Alpe d’Huez.”
With the fatigue from his Giro and Route du Sud wins in his legs, Contador’s opportunity to maximise recovery on the rest day was hampered by hot weather, hot hotel rooms and an outdoor press conference. He expressed his unhappiness as beads of sweat ran down his brow.
“It’s true that the Tour is moving thousands of people everyday and it’s complicated to find places for everyday, but also it’s true that today we have a hotel that is not at the level for the Tour de France. Out hotel room is 35 degrees and it’s not the best for recovery after a stage that was probably over 40 degrees.”
Team owner Tinkov added to Contador’s statement on the hotel situation, explaining an air-conditioned room should be the minimum for riders after a log day in the saddle.
“I rode yesterday for three hours at 36-37 degrees, the guys ride six hours. When I came back from the ride I couldn’t sleep so I had to shower for 20 minutes to cool down so I could finally sleep,” Tinkov said. “Thinking of the professionals, they don’t deserve these conditions having been punished by the sun for six hours.”