Alberto Contador's return to the Ardennes Classics and more specficially to Fleche Wallone, where he finished third in 2010, has not started well, with the Spaniard failing to impact on the steep climb to Huy and finishing only 33rd. Amstel Gold Race winner and Saxo-Tinkoff team-mate Roman Kreuziger finished 17th.
Contador was close to the front the first time the race went up the Mur de Huy and Saxo-Tinkoff powered things up in the last three kilometres as the race roared towards the finish.
But Contador said that "that acceleration was more to keep us at the front of the field rather than looking for a particular result. We wanted to be sure we were well-positioned and staying out of trouble if there were crashes."
"I couldn't find my right pace, though, I don't know if it was because of tiredness or because I've had quite a bit of time off in the last week."
"But I could see that my legs were not as good as I wanted them to be and that's why I decided to take things more calmly than usual."
"Things didn't work out as well as I'd have liked even if the team was great all the way through. We can just hope that things work out better on Sunday at Liege-Bastogne-Liege when I've had more time to rebuild some form."
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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