Contador "has the legs"
By Gregor Brown in Briançon
Discovery Channel Directeur Sportif Dirk Demol expects a lot from his charges over the coming days but warned them to be on the defensive for the last stages in the Alpines.
"We think there are going to be attacks from the start again, like two days ago," said the Belgian Tuesday morning in Val d'Isère. His boys went on the attack, first with Popovych and then Contador and they helped eliminated GC-contender Vinokourov. "We have to make sure that when big groups go that we have at least one of us there," he modestly continued. "But on the other hand we need our GC men not spend too much energy, just following the favourites, and that's it."
Demol was impressed with the Alps but thinks the real battle will be played out in southwest France. "We went [in training] to see the Pyrénées stages of next week and they will be hard, and they are still a long ways off, especially considering the two time trials. You have to save energy as much as possible."
Even without Vinokourov, the Tour is as wide open as ever. Demol has his two best-placed riders, Contador and Leipheimer, at 3'08" and 3'53" back, respectively, but considers Moreau the danger man. "I cannot answer who will win the Tour; it is so open and so close. It is good for the fans. For me, the other day [to Tignes], Moreau had a good performance. It was a strong wind and maybe his move was not so smart. It was a long climb. It was maybe not the best to attack from the bottom. When he has the legs he attacks, we saw that in the last Dauphiné.
"Contador had a little bad luck but without the puncture he would have finished with Mayo or Moreau," noted Demol. The Spaniard came back with the Disco one-two thanks to Popovych's early move on the Col de l'Iseran. "He was planning to try something at the very end [of Tignes]. We told him to wait because of the strong wind. He lost about 35 seconds due to his puncture. He has the legs. ... In one or two years he could vie for a Grand Tour."