By Gregor Brown in Pau
Riccardo Riccò, holder of the mountains and young rider jerseys and winner of two stages thus far in the Tour de France, listed the mythical Alpe d'Huez at the top of his priorities during the race's first rest day in Pau.
"Alpe d'Huez or podium? The Alpe d'Huez," said Italian Riccò during a press conference near the Pyrenean mountains that his Saunier Duval team have dominated in the last two days.
Riccò put his stamp on the first mountain-top finish, Super Besse, by going clear of Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto). He remained focused on stage wins as the race entered the high mountains and his drive paid off with an attack on the Col d'Aspin that garnered a solo win in Bagnères de Bigorre. One day later, he helped set up the move for team-mate Leonardo Piepoli's win on Hautacam.
The race now transfers from the Pyrénées to the Alps via four stages. More high mountains then follow with stages to Prato Nevoso and Alpe d'Huez, the latter a stage that Riccò's hero, Marco Pantani, dominated in 1995 and 1997.
Riccò clarified his interests in the race, saying he has no interest in simply riding for a podium position "First overall or Alpe d'Huez. The podium I have already obtained at the Giro d'Italia. The classification does not interest me that much - either win the overall or take another stage like Alpe d'Huez," he said.
By winning on the famous Alpine climb Riccò could make huge inroads towards sealing the mountains and young rider competitions. He is currently the leader of the former by 12 points over team-mate David De La Fuente and the latter by 1'49" over Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas).
"I will keep going in the high mountains and if it happens it happens. I am not going to fight over all the small mountains for points. There is also my team-mate De La Fuente," he said of the fight for the polka dot jersey.
"Alpe d'Huez? Certainly there would be a way to take points for the jersey."