After a difficult start to the Critérium du Dauphiné, Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) has shown signs of improvement in recent days and the Spaniard believes that he is at “75 percent” of his condition with three weeks still to go to the Tour de France.
Contador conceded 2:45 to chief Tour rival Chris Froome (Sky) in the Dauphiné’s stage 4 time trial and was out-kicked by him in the finale at Valmorel the following day. On Saturday, however, Contador was back in front and set the tempo in the leading group on the Col du Noyer and again on the final haul up to Superdévoluy.
“I was working for my teammate Michael Rogers by pulling the front group,” Contador said of his efforts, which saw Rogers move up to third place overall with one stage to go.
“My condition is perfect and I’m where I want to be at this point in time. I reckon I’m at 75 percent of my maximum and I wouldn’t change a thing about the preparation that I have now.”
Contador explained that winning the stage was never an ambition and that he was simply working for Rogers: “The team always work for me and today I had the chance to work for one of them.” It was also, he said, an opportunity to hone his own form ahead of the Tour.
“I wanted to ride on the front and that’s useful as training for me too. The goal was to move Michael up to third overall and we’ve done that. Personally I’m very happy. My legs are going well and I’m sure that I’ll be stronger again at the Tour.”
Contador blamed allergies for his travails against the watch on Wednesday and in that context said that he was pleased with the improvement in his fortunes since entering the high mountains.
“I’m happy with the form I have at the moment because this isn’t the best time of year for me due to allergies,” he said. “My condition is very good and I’m happy with the performance.”
Contador and the other Tour contenders have one final test of their credentials on Sunday’s final stage, which includes two category one climbs – the Col de Vars and the summit finish at Risoul.
“My sensations are pretty good. I feel quite comfortable on the climbs and the forecast seems to be for rain, which in a way suits me,” Contador said. “We’ll see what happens.”
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