Tour de France: I need time to improve, says Contador

Spaniard expects riders to lose time in Mende

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) was perhaps somewhat relieved when the Tour de France left its three-day jaunt into the Pyrenees. After a challenging start to the Tour, Contador has been able to stem the tide of disappearing seconds but, unable to regain any of it yet, he knows that is still lacking the form he needs to put up a serious fight in the mountains.

There are signs that he is moving in the right direction but Contador admits that only time will help him get there. “I need time to continue to get better but every day I am getting a little bit better and that encourages me,” Contador said according to Biciciclismo. “It’s a Tour that I have to take in a different way to usual but there is a long way to go.”

The fatigue of Contador’s efforts at the Giro d’Italia have definitely shown in this second week, after he was dropped on the opening day in the Pyrenees and saw his gap to Chris Froome edge out to a touch over the four-minute mark. He was able to match the race leader in the next two days, even putting in a speculatory attack on the Plateau de Beille. There are still over 500 kilometres of racing before the Alps come into sharp focus and Contador expects that Saturday’s stage 14 uphill finish into Mende could see a small shake-up in the overall classification.

"Certainly in Mende, with three kilometres at ten percent, some people will lose time and hopefully I will not be among those,” said Contador. “It’s going to be hard to beat Froome, head to head it will be hard, but we need to see what will happen if the other teams also attack from a long distance. If we wait until the last climb, it will be too difficult to make up time. But in this moment, I need to go day by day and recover after these many hot days and I will see what my legs can do in the Alps”.

While the yellow jersey could be beyond the grasp of Contador, his teammate Peter Sagan is on course to take his fourth consecutive green jersey. Sagan took his fourth second place at this year’s Tour, being beaten by Greg Van Avermaet into Rodez, but he extended his lead over André Greipel in the points competition.

“Of course it’s frustrating that we didn’t win but we also spent energy in the intermediate sprint. Peter cannot do more than he’s already doing, he is incredible and he also works hard for me,” Contador said. “In these stages it’s important that the team works well. Today it was a good day for us. In the finale, the team did a good job. Peter stayed near the front and had to ride exposed to the wind. Still, he was so close at the finish line. Maybe he didn’t win but he took some points. He has been fighting from the start of the Tour and I hope, or better said I’m sure the well-deserved victory will come another day.”

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