Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) has described Friday’s first stage of the Tour de France in the Pyrenees as a “major test” having got through the final flat stage of the first week without any further incidents following his crash-ridden start to the race.
Contador is currently lying 25th overall, 1:22 down on Chris Froome (Team Sky), after he lost time in the Tour’s two hilliest stages so far. Perhaps understandably after such a tumultuous Tour start, Contador began his post-stage debrief with reporters on the line at Montauban by saying that “I’ve got through the stage ok, and that’s the most important thing. Now I’ve got to rehydrate well because it’s been the first really hot stage of this year’s Tour.”
The million dollar question, whether Contador thinks he is recovering from his injuries and whether he feels better than on stage five - where he lost another 35 seconds on the favourites - was not long in coming from the reporters gathered around the Tinkoff rider.
"Pretty much the same as yesterday and I’m thinking the same as yesterday” was his rather guarded response, "that the Tour is very long, and we can do some good things here."
As for stage 7 and what it represents in the Tour overall, Contador said, "I'm not sure, I was going to call it the crunch test of this year's Tour, but it's not that, it's too soon in the race to say that. It's an important test, though.'
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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