Andy Schleck refused to admit his challenge for the yellow jersey is over despite his failure to gain any time on race leader Alberto Contador during an epic stage to the misty summit of the Col du Tourmalet. The Saxo Bank rider had said on the rest day that whoever was in the yellow jersey after the Tourmalet stage would win the Tour, but declared in his post-stage press conference: "I changed my mind when I crossed the finish line today. I will give my maximum in the time trial and I'm sure I will go well. I can still see the yellow jersey in front of me so I've recently changed my mind about what I said yesterday."
The Luxembourger said he had tried everything possible to drop Contador on today's stage, but admitted the Spaniard had the legs to match him. "I can show the SRM data that reveals that I accelerated 15 times. It's maybe not so obvious on TV, but I did accelerate a lot. I made a lot of short accelerations, but it simply wasn't possible to drop him because he was very strong today.
"I know that he attacked to show me that he was strong, that his legs were good. In the end it wasn't possible to drop him but I was very happy to win the stage. It may have looked one-paced but it wasn't like that and I hope that Alberto can confirm that." Not long before, Contador had sit in the same interview seat and confirmed exactly that.
Asked just as Contador had been what the pair had talked about during the final kilometres of the climb, Schleck was more candid, explaining: "I asked him to take a turn on the front. I wanted to be behind him so that I could attack him, but he was very smart today and knew that he just had to follow.
"I said to myself this morning that I was going to give everything I had today because on some of the other stages I didn't do that due to the way the race went. But today I did and Alberto did the right thing. He's a great professional and did exactly the right thing for him today."
And what about "the look" that Schleck had directed at his Spanish rival. Was it one of disgust, he was asked? "Everybody talks about the look but I have to look somewhere. I was looking at him in the eyes just as I'm looking at you in the eyes. Of course I want to see if he is suffering. There's nothing special to the look although I've heard a lot of people talking about it."
Schleck said he was delighted with a performance that netted him his second summit victory of the race. "Alberto Contador is described as the best climber in the world and I think that I've shown that I've been as good as him in this race.
"I hope I have a good future in the sport. I believe I've got the skills to win the Tour. It may be next year, it may be in three years, but I want to win the Tour. I don't need to compare myself to Alberto Contador to know how far I can go. We're all individuals and I'm different from him."
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).