Stephen Roche expects Alberto Contador to bank his Tour de France bid on one major attack and says that even if Chris Froome escapes without enduring a bad day, he is still capable of losing the race.
"Champions don't die and Alberto is one of the riders that I have a lot of respect for his race intelligence and his tactics," Roche told Cyclingnews on Wednesday.
"Alberto knows his terrain and it's the mountains and he has two stages where he can do it: l'Alpe d'Huez and Ventoux. He'll get one shot but he has to make sure it's the right one. He has to take the opportunity when he sees it."
Contador currently lies in fourth places, 3:54 down on Froome after the stage 11 time trial to Mont-Saint-Michel say the Sky leader increase his lead in the race.
"Saxo and Bjarne Riis are very good at judging a race and making the most of an opportunity. Bjarne wants to win, Contador wants to win and they're a very strong team," added Roche.
Froome has looked imperious thus far, the only question marks surrounding his team and whether the Sky leader can see out a maiden grand tour victory.
"I don't see Froome having a bad day but even if he has a good day he can be beaten on tactics as we saw the other day in the mountains. Maybe what happened the other day will fuel the ambitions of other riders."
Zero tolerance but possible protectionism
Last week Roche told Dutch website Nusport that a zero tolerance policy towards dopers should be enforced for the future and that cycling should no longer try and look towards the cheats of the past. Interestingly Roche has always denied doping, despite links and references to him in the Conconi files that pointed to EPO use in 1993, towards the end of his career.
"Riders today should not be paying for the riders of the past," Roche told Cyclingnews.
"What happened in the past happened but you cannot keep talking about the past because at some stage you've got to say stop. What happened, happened in a very bad period but anything that happens tomorrow, if you're caught you should be out of the sport."
Asked by Cyclingnews to deliberate on the period in which he raced, considering the backdrop of doping, Roche said his era was "brilliant. The best era that ever existed," before adding, "why do we always talk about this, isn't there much better things to be talking about than dragging it up? Here we are talking about zero tolerance. Why am I saying zero tolerance, you've got to move on. Here I am going into detail and we keep talking about it. We've got to go and look forward, not look behind and talk about what happened yesterday. We can make things better."
Cyclingnews then posed whether a stance based upon only looking forward, rather than back was merely a ploy based on protectionism of an era that has faced little scrutiny. The 1987 Tour, Giro and World champion sidestepped the question:
"Questions are asked everyday and I do pity the riders of today because every time someone looks at them and asks them a question they're looked at as being guilty of something without even appreciating what they're doing and I think that's really unfair."
"You journalists keep talking about it and while you journalists keep talking about it we're not going to go forward. Why you journalists think it's 'in' or cool to talk about it or think that the readers want to read about it, we're never going to get out of it. The people on the street here love cycling, they don't want to hear about doping. They've heard so much about it the last few years they want to move on."
Finally, Roche was asked if doping in the news was all down to the media.
"No it's everyone's fault because if there was no one doping there would be nothing to talk about. But, ok, lets not bring up the past, lets leave it there, lets move on and talk about the good things."
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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