It was always unlikely the Spaniard would hit peak form given his exertions in winning the Giro d’Italia in May, and his goal of doing the Giro-Tour double. Whereas he went into the first rest day in Italy in the pink jersey and full of confidence, he wasn’t so self-assured on the first jour de repos in France on Monday.
“On the first rest day of the Giro I was a bit more confident, I knew how my body was. Now, I have more uncertainty,” Contador told Biciciclismo. “What I’ve noticed in the first part of the Tour is that I'm lacking the spark that others have. I hope this spark doesn’t have a bearing when we look at the Tour as a whole.
“Evidently it is quite a big gap given that we have not yet reached the mountains but, on the other hand, there is a lot of climbing to come, with many opportunities. I’d have liked the situation to be slightly more favourable but I’m very happy, we’ve given our all."
Whereas the opening week of the Tour was a largely flat, Classics-flavoured affair, the second half is all about the mountains, with five summit finishes on the menu across the Pyrenees and Alps.
Given the parcours, the Spaniard feels that consistency across the board – rather than a virtuoso performance on one day – will be rewarded and that this will play into his hands.
“There are a lot of stages at altitude and it’s a Grand Tour, where consistency will be important. This could work in my favour. We’ll wait and see how everyone is in the mountains," he said.
“Everyone will have below-par days, let’s hope that we don’t and that we can take advantage of that. Consistency is very important and that gives me encouragement.”
That said, Contador showed in the Giro that he is anything but a conservative rider and hasn’t ruled out going on the offensive on the Tour’s first summit finish on Tuesday. The rolling stage culminates with an hors-catégorie climb to La Pierre-Saint-Martin, which is 15 kilometres long with an average gradient of over 7 per cent.
“It’s a tough climb, anything could happen, we will see how things are after the rest day. If I have the legs, I’ll go for it."