Despite ceding time to a number of his Critérium du Dauphiné rivals on the first mountain stage of this year's race, Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) believes that his Tour de France form and ambitions are on track.
The Spaniard was one of the last riders to lose contact with a group containing Chris Froome (Team Sky), Richie Porte (BMC Racing), and stage winner Jacob Fuglsang, (Astana Team) on the Mont du Chat on stage 6. Contador was able to link up with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) but, on the descent, the Trek rider was distanced once more and crossed the line in 9th place, 1:06 down on Fuglsang, Porte and Froome.
Contador now sits 6th overall, 1:47 off Porte's race lead with two days in the mountains to come.
"It was good day," Contador told Cyclingnews as he sat on the steps of the Trek-Segafredo team bus.
"It was a fast start at the beginning and then the climb was okay. I was on the wheels and the objective was to follow, follow, follow and then at one moment when Richie and Froome went strong I decided to just remain calm because I didn't want to explode. I saw that Valverde had a good tempo and I took his wheel. I rode with him to the top and we kept it steady.
"On the descent we were going fast but on one corner we passed a guy from the early break and I passed on one side and was close to crashing. I lost five seconds and then I was alone."
Since the eve of the Dauphiné Contador has talked down his chances of winning the race. For the Spaniard, this week is merely a tune-up to the Tour de France, and while the sight of him slipping off the back of the lead group may concern his fans, the man himself appears far from ruffled.
"For me I'm very, very happy with the performance because with the work that I have in my bank it's a good ride. For me it's perfect and I hope that in the next days everyone attacks and makes it a hard race because that might be good for me when it comes to July."
When asked how his Tour de France shape was coming together, Contador once again decided to take a positive outlook. However, only time will tell if he truly is building up to something special or not.
"I think that it's perfect. It can't be better at this moment in time. My condition is perfect."
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