It was a well-calculated move that made Liberty Seguros' Alberto Contador grab the stage victory and the yellow jersey in the mountains of Switzerland yesterday - and the 24 year-old didn't lack the power in the final kilometres of the Cat. 1 ascent to Leysin. Attacking from a chase group which had just swallowed his even younger teammate José Antonio Redondo with only a few kilometres to go, Contador executed team director Manolo Saiz' strategy to the letter. The Spaniard now leads the race with 16 seconds over Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), who naturally won the sprint for second placing against Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto).
"From the beginning of the day, I had good sensations and was waiting for the last climb," said Contador. "Since we had a majority of riders, the key was our strategy and it has worked out perfectly for us. I saw my opportunity at four kilometres to go, attacked and it paid off. This victory is very important for me: Romandie was the last opportunity to win before starting my preparations for the Tour, and now I will be able to do it with better sensations and hope for good things for the rest of the season."
The young Spaniard knows that he might even be able to hang on to the leader's jersey until the very end of the race. "Of course I am interested in the general classification and holding onto the leader's jersey," he said. "I believe that here we have the strongest team with three riders - Jaksche, Kashechkin and myself - with options for victory and we have to try to take advantage of this opportunity."
Saturday's penultimate stage looks to be the Queen's stage of this year's Tour de Romandie, one day before the final time trial. Three Category 1 climbs in just under 130 kilometres for a total 2,360 metres elevation can only be described as a sufferfest - even the gruppetto will need to be moving just to make the time limit!
Also see: Full results, report & photos