Whilst Amstel Gold Race winner Roman Kreuziger was nowhere near as strong in Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège, finishing nearly ten minutes down on winner Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp), his Saxo-Tinkoff teammate and co-leader Alberto Contador turned in a far better performance than he had perhaps expected at the end of a long first half of the 2013 season and a relatively lacklustre Fleche Wallonne.
Always near the front at La Redoute, Contador was very active on the Cote de Colonster, helping create a move which then saw Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) go clear. Contador then formed part of a six-rider attack behind Hesjedal that might, with a little more collaboration, have stayed away at least as far as Saint-Nicolas. All in all, a much better performance than he had expected, which his 57th place on the results sheet in no way reflected.
"I was feeling a lot better than I thought and I'm pleased I've finished the first part of the season with a good performance," Contador said afterwards. Saxo-Tinkoff started driving hard for part of the Col du Rosier, "although my teammates weren't just working for me, it was to set things up for any of the riders in the squad who were feeling good."
"I thought that the Cote de Colonster was a good opportunity for me, I tried making a move but it didn't quite work out. When nobody else wanted to collaborate with me chasing down Hesjedal, it wasn't up to me to do all the work."
"Still, it's been a good way to end this part of the season, I'm pleased that I managed to do what I could." Contador will now take a break, before returning to racing at the Criterium du Dauphine. After that, it's onto his big goal of 2013, the Tour de France.
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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