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Fearless descenders Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Sungard) tried to put time into their GC rivals.
Spaniard warns that Contador can turn GC on its head
Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) has formed a potent alliance with Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) in the third week of the Tour de France, and the Olympic champion is hoping that the two stages over the Galibier can help him finish on the podium in Paris.
Already a stage winner at Luz-Ardiden, Sanchez now approaches the final difficulties of the Tour in a relaxed frame of mind, and pointed out that there are other riders who are under more pressure to attack on the Galibier on Thursday afternoon.
“I’m in a waiting position and my contract is already practically fulfilled,” Sanchez said, according to L’Équipe. “I’ve done my work. The two stages to come should suit me. But there are others who have more reason than me to inflame the race.”
“These stages are already nervous enough, there’s no need to take additional risks.”
Sanchez went on the offensive with Alberto Contador on the descent of the Pramartino on Wednesday afternoon. Although the Spanish pair, who share a trainer in Pepe Martì, were swallowed up by Cadel Evans and the Schleck brothers just short of the finish line, their effort caused behind in the yellow jersey group behind.
“You have to try everything, you can’t leave anything behind,” Sanchez said. “We did the descent that needed to be done and behind there was certainly some panic. They fought hard to get back to us.
“I lost a lot of time in the first week and it’s a pity. But nothing is insurmountable.”
While Sanchez failed to gain time on Evans and the Schlecks at Pinerolo, he did move closer to the yellow jersey of Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), and now lies 5th overall at 2:59.
“I gained 27 seconds on the yellow jersey and caught Basso by surprise,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport. “Not bad.”
Sanchez also warned that his compatriot Contador would look to prise the race open over the next two stages. “He’s the only one capable of turning the classification upside down.”