Contador promises battles but doesn't say where

Alberto Contador is adamant that no conclusion can be drawn from the first week of racing at the Tour de France. He remains ambitious but he's also skeptical about his recovery from a knee injury.

"This Tour de France is a bit different from the other ones I've done and more similar to my first one in 2005," the defending champion said in a press conference at his hotel in Murat in the center of France. "It's complicated, but the main reason is meteorological. The weather conditions have played an important role in the crashes. The number of uphill finishes has put the sprinters in the middle of the GC riders who all have to be at the front as well to not lose time. My first crash on day one also has a big responsibility. After that, everyone has wanted to ride at the front."

Like other riders, Contador singled out the Garmin-Cervélo team in regard to the crash that cost Alexandre Vinokourov and Jurgen Van den Broeck their Tour de France. "They rode too fast and didn't perceive the danger," the Spaniard said.

Contador also blamed the non-selective parcours for causing problems. "A prologue normally creates a selection and sets a classification. There was none this year, but the course is what it is and we have to cope with it."

Contador shortened his training ride with the Saxo Bank-Sungard team during the rest day a little, but only because he considered he had done enough. He didn't have any particular pain following his crash on Sunday, but he's still worried about its effects. "I touched the right knee cap for the second time," he said. "Both the inside and the outside are a bit painful but it's been treated with ice and the therapy we can use. Fortunately, I could train normally, but I'm worried."

The triple winner of the Tour de France wasn't able to figure out whether he was more worried about his knee or about the coming mountains. "It's a demanding race but not only the mountain stages," he underlined. "The first test is the three days prior to the Pyrenees. I hope that my knee will not be affected. The coming week will be a hard one."

"It's too early to draw any conclusion from what has happened until now. Cadel Evans obviously has good form but the hills of the beginning of the Tour were a bit like the Mur de Huy in the Flèche Wallone, so it suited him more than any other favourite. It's true that he usually has a bad day and loses quite a lot of time but this year, he seems to go really well. He's a bit ahead on GC for now and he's a good time triallist.

"That means the Schleck brothers will be obliged to attack him. Basso and Klöden are strong as well, but they also have to attack to win. I also have to attack but not necessarily in the Pyrenees. It's hard to get time back but there's a time trial at the end. I'll look for the adequate moment to go on the offensive. It'll depend on how my knee is and how my condition is."

Contador might have his knee injury as an explanation for not being at the level he expected but he won't mention his participation to the Giro. "I will not use it as an excuse, the Giro is behind us now," he said. His team manager Bjarne Riis concluded for him: "So far in this race, we haven't seen anything yet."


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