Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) has never been one to give up on something, even when the chances are slim. The Spaniard put on a show of determination on the last stage of Paris-Nice, attacking race leader Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) multiple times over the final two climbs.
It looked like Contador had done the damage needed when Thomas cracked under the pressure of Contador’s move on the Col d’Eze. As he passed over the top of the climb, Contador was the virtual Maillot Jaune, but a dogged effort by Team Sky and Thomas saw him miss out on his third Paris-Nice title by just four seconds.
“Our strategy today was executed perfectly today. We managed to have riders in the breakaway, just like we wanted, in order to make it tougher,” explained Contador. “We then split the peloton when I attacked so that they waited for me at the top. That also played out the way we wanted.
“Still, Sky had a strong team. They pulled very hard and reached us before Col d'Eze. Rafal Majka was there, waiting for me, in order to make the last climb hard. We attacked again and left the leader behind. However, behind us, there were different interests and the gap with us was closed. At the end, I was only able to take five seconds.”
The Tinkoff team made their intentions apparent right from the start by putting both Robert Kiserlovski and Yuri Trofimov into the breakaway. When Contador made his first attack on the Cote de Peille, he was able to rely on the help of his two teammates. The plan didn’t quite come off, and he had to fight off his emotion at missing out while on the podium. The team, however, is trying to look on the bright side of things.
“We fought hard in this final stage of Paris-Nice,” said Tinkoff directeur sportif Sean Yates. "We gave our best, and we missed the overall win by just four seconds. It was a slim margin but after yesterday's stage I knew it would have been very difficult to get the top spot since Sky has a very strong team. However, we tried our best, and we were nearly there. We attacked with 60km to go and pushed the leader to the limit.
“The cancellation of stage 3 may have changed things, but apart from that, we tried and gave it everything this weekend. We race to win, but we can still take positives from Alberto's second place.”
Contador is next due to race at the Volta a Catalunya, which begins on March 21.