By Hedwig Kröner
One of Spain's most promising young cyclists, Liberty Seguros' Alberto Contador, has started his 2006 season with the French 'race to the sun' about a week ago. Being an excellent climber and a good rouleur, the 23 year-old would have been a candidate for a good overall placing or a stage win in Paris-Nice, but Contador was a little short of luck after finishing a solid fourth at the prologue in Issy-les-Moulineaux.
In the second stage from Villemandeur to Saint-Amand-Montrond, the young Spaniard punctured at a crucial moment of the race. "It was a little bit of bad luck, that's true," Contador told Cyclingnews in the evening of the fifth day of racing. "We were chasing down the break when I punctured, so the race was really fast at that moment. I lost time there, although two teammates were with me - one of them had to give me his bike."
The winner of last year's Setmana Catalana also recalled the time when another mechanical ruined his then good chances of a stage win in the 2005 Paris-Nice: on the last day, he went on a very promising solo breakaway in the hinterland of Nice when his chain slipped. "I rode that stage in front all day, and I almost made it hadn't my foot slipped out of the pedal in the descent - I almost crashed very badly that day, it could have been much worse."
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