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Alberto Contador sets the pace on a climb
Tinkoff-Saxo rider asks fans for respect and safety
It was another day of survival for Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) who was content with finishing in the front group two seconds behind stage winner and new maillot jaune of the Tour de France, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
The demanding stage two parcours, with nine categorised climbs, was decided in the final kilometres of the race and Contador was grateful for all the work of his teammates in ensuring he avoided any crashes on another nervous day in the peloton.
"We had to be focused at all times, because it was a super challenging day, we had to be at the front for 200 kilometres and the team protected me very well", Contador said.
Contador was shepherded through the 201km stage from York to Sheffield by Michael Rogers and Nicolas Roche but said after the stage that the whole team ensured he arrived at the finish line in one piece.
"The team has protected me at all times from possible falls, because here, in the quiet moment you can lose the Tour," he said. "With Rogers and Roche with me, the final was easier. I just had to be with the road captains. I'm very happy [to finish safely]."
While the GC contenders tested each other’s legs on Jenkin Road, the stage wasn’t a real test of the overall contenders as Contador explained despite Nibali taking the stage win.
"It was a good day to be positioned there," he said. "It is always important to be at the front and push a little bit, but today was not the day, there was no terrain, and there was a lot of peddling until the finish line. It was a day to get throughout without problems which we did."
Tinkoff-Saxo's director sportif Philippe Mauduit echoed Contador’s sentiments about the stage, adding he is looking forward to the sprint stage tomorrow with is likely to be a less stressful day of racing.
"It was an extremely demanding stage and it's almost as demanding as a spring classic so it was only natural that a select group of favourites arrived in Sheffield," Mauduit said. "Our boys did their job really well. The most important thing is to keep Alberto on his bike and he was supported all the way to the final climb.
"Tomorrow, it's an ordinary sprinter stage where Astana are responsible for the pacesetting and eventually we hope to see a thrilling, safe and beautiful run-in to London where the sprinters get their chance to shine."
Safety message for the English tifosi
For the second straight day, the people Yorkshire came out in their droves, packing the roadsides and while appreciative of the support, Contador added the importance of the fans not getting too close to the riders and limited the number of selfies they take as the peloton passes by.
While several sections of the stage was barricaded, the sheer number of fans it was not entirely a comfortable day for the riders who were constantly ascending and descending.
"We are going at 80 or 90 km/h on the downhill and with the public right there, with people in wheelchairs, people with dogs… finishing untouched every day is a victory," he said.
"The tension is great and although we are extremely grateful to the people who are on the road, there is a great danger [of causing crashes.]"
Prior to the start of the Tour, ASO released a series of videos where riders plead with the public to respect them and protect themselves during the race.