On the Tour de France’s first visit to the Mûr de Bretagne in four years, Tinkoff-Saxo leader Alberto Contador was unable to repeat the second place he secured behind Cadel Evans in 2011 on the same climb, but the Spaniard said he was nonetheless pleased with the day’s performance.
Contador neither went on the attack nor seemed to be in difficulty on the two kilometre Breton climb, turning in a solid, if unremarkable, ride for fourteenth on the stage in the main pack, and still sits seventh overall.
Interviewed on the line, the 32-year-old seemed most pleased that he had managed to gain a little time on Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), who lost 10 seconds on what appears to have been an off-day for the Italian champion.
"We were all racing together and I saw how he blew," Contador said, "and if he’s reached the finish line ten seconds back, that’s a good gain."
Contador said the greater part of the 181.5 kilometre stage had passed off calmly, but he pointed out that "when things started to get tenser on the final ascent, it was pretty fast, although it wasn’t anything exceptional, so I followed wheels."
The Spanish Tour contender said he had attempted to help his teammate Peter Sagan win the stage, but he had been blocked behind the Slovakian champion and "It was impossible to try and lead him out."
After ticking off another stage, Contador said he is now looking forward to the team time trial, where Tinkoff-Saxo - particularly after their strong showing in the opening equivalent event in the Giro d’Italia - will be expecting to turn in a good performance. The squad will be off third last of the teams, with only BMC Racing and Team Sky following the Russian outfit down the start ramps at Vannes. As Contador put it, "we’ll go flat out. I’m optimistic."
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