Alberto Contador and his Tinkoff-Saxo team took somewhat of a blow during the team time trial on stage 9 at the Tour de France, losing valuable seconds to stage winners BMC, and more importantly to yellow jersey Chris Froome (Team Sky).
Contador is hunting the Giro-Tour double, however, he already needs to make up time on his rivals after the first week of racing. The Spaniard currently sits in fifth place overall, 1:03 behind Froome and 51 seconds behind Tejay van Garderen (BMC), a rider that Contador will not discount for a top overall placing at the end of the Tour.
“He’s a rider with tremendous qualities as we all could see in the Dauphiné, where he showed that he’s also strong on the climbs,” Contador said.
The team time trial didn’t go perfectly for Contador and his teammates, having lost seven seconds to both BMC and Team Sky in the first third of the 28-kilometre course. “We tried, I think we got a good time, and now it’s time to rest. I think we did a decent time,” Contador said.
After tackling the uphill roads towards Monterblanc and its descent, Tinkoff-Saxo lost another 10 seconds to Team Sky, who were leading BMC by one second. Shortly before reaching the top of the climb to La Croix Peinte, the gap to Team Sky had ballooned out to 30 seconds.
In the final two kilometres up the Côte de Caloudal climb the five remaining men from Contador’s team managed to take back a handful of seconds. The Spaniard led the team in that included Peter Sagan, Roman Kreuziger, Ivan Basso and Rafal Majka.
BMC won the team time trial by a mere one second ahead of Team Sky, while Tinkoff-Saxo finished fourth, 28 seconds down.
Following the race, Contador didn’t seem too concerned with the additional time loss ahead of the first rest day, and as the race heads into the mountains next week.
“We’ll see how everyone is in the mountains. I believe that a lot is still to happen in this Tour and everybody will have días malos, bad days. Hopefully we will have none,” Contador said.
“This Tour will be won by regularity and I hope that this favours me. Apart from two days, I believe that things can occur in every stage, leaving no days for recovery. Add to that factors like the weather circumstances then it’s clear that everything can turn around.”
The impact of Contador's Giro-Tour double attempt is starting to show as he said he was lacking the freshness, the punch, that other riders were displaying during the first part of the Tour de France.
“In the first rest day of the Giro [d’Italia] everything was more under control, knowing how my body would react. Now that’s an uncertainty. I notice that at this moment in the race I lack the sparkle that others have. I hope that as fatigue builds up I’ll come level with my opponents. Recovery will be the key,” Contador said after freshening up in a rented bus and eating a sandwich.
The team bus was already making the long transfer to Pau. The first of the longer climbs is on offer in stage 10 of the Tour de France, one day after Monday’s rest day. There the Grand Boucle tackles its first Pyrenees mountain stage, finishing on top of the HC-category climb La Pierre-Saint-Martin.
“It’s a hard climb where anything can happen. We will see how we dealt with the rest day. If I’m good, I’ll try something because I’m among those who feel you have to seize the opportunity.”