Alberto Contador won the prologue of the Dauphiné despite playing down his chances prior to the Alpine race but quickly warned that he won’t defend his yellow jersey in the early days of the race.
Several directeur sportif predicted Contador would win once they had seen the course and they knew that they were talking about.
“It suits a climber who has the sense of the rhythm”, explained Française des Jeux’s Marc Madiot who added: “This is exactly what Contador is good at.”
“Contador will win”, assured RadioShack’s Alain Gallopin who directed the Spaniard for the past two years at Astana. “The climb at the beginning and the one kilometre false after the summit flat will dictate the classification.”
Contador showed the two directeur sportif know what they are talking about with a balanced ride on the technically difficult course. He the fastest on the climb to the first time split, while the second fastest, Jérôme Coppel (Saur-Sojasun) had given everything in the hill and Van Garderen pulled back time on the downhill and the final flat section. “It’s true that this course suited me to perfection and I knew I would do well after I saw it but to win is a surprise, even if the distance and the hill favoured my characteristics.”
Contador talked about the new bike he tested and his form.
“The prologue gave me the opportunity to test my new time trial bike”, he said. “This bike is the fruit of numerous discussions I’ve had with the engineers from Specialized. I’m satisfied with it but I think we can improve it again from now until the prologue of the Tour de France.”
“My form isn’t yet what it is usually in July. I’m still in a process of gearing up for the Tour de France. This win isn’t a message to send to the Schleck brothers or Lance Armstrong. It isn’t a message to anyone actually. I rode flat out and I won. I’m here to give my best and follow the plan that I set to myself initially.”
That plan means Contador will not try to be only the second rider to wear the leader’s jersey from start to finish in 62 year-history in the Dauphiné. Eddy Merckx was the only man to do so in 1971, the only time he won the event.
“Tomorrow I’ll be happy to give the yellow jersey to another rider”, Contador said. “I won’t ask my teammates to defend the lead. There are many riders with good form in this race and I’m here with my teammates to prepare for the Tour. That's the priority. To defend the jersey would be too taxing.”
Contador added that it’s not a lack of respect for the race. “It’s the opposite. It’s because I respect this race that I can’t say that I’ll win it. It’s an incredible race, a very nice one, very hard to win, and some riders here are in a better shape than me at the moment.”