RACE WATCH 2012
Vuelta a España via Fuente Dé
RACE WATCH 2011
The unforgettable Giro d'Italia
RACE WATCH 2010
Alberto's third Tour
RACE WATCH 2009
Alberto's second Tour
RACE WATCH 2008
The Year of the Triple Crown
Paris-Nice final podium: Alberto Contador (2nd), Sergio Henao (1st), Dan Martin (3rd) (Colin Flockton)
RESULTS: Contador in Stage 8, 2nd (s.t. Davod De la Cruz - 2:48:53). Contador in GC, 2nd (0:02 Sergio Henao - 29:50:29).
TOP TEN: 1 Henao, 2 Contador (0:02), 3 D. Martin (0:30), 4 G. Izaguirre (1:00), 5 Alaphilippe (1:22), 6 Zakarin (1:34), 7 J. Izaguirre (1:41), 8 Barguil (1:41), 9 S. Yates (4:39), 10 Gallopin (9:14)
De la Cruz slips ahead of Contador at the last moment to get the Stage 8 win and maxium bonification (Colin Flockton)
Alberto Contador wheels to the finish ahead of all those in contention (Colin Flockton)
Stage 7, March 11: Nice – Col de la Couillole, 177 km
Alberto Contador attacked and fought to within striking distance of the overall title today in Paris-Nice Stage 7. With the help of teammate Jarlinson Pantano, Contador dropped all of his direct rivals on the final climb and vaulted to 3rd overall, 31” from new race leader, Sergio Henao. Richie Porte escaped alone to win the stage.
“In today’s stage I played my cards closer to my chest than yesterday, waiting a little to see what could be done on the final climb,” Alberto explained at the finish line. “We were going at a good clip, but I told Jarlinson to set a fast tempo so that the GC men would be dropped. He did an extraordinary job for me, and no mistake. He whittled down the group and broke it completely apart.”
Pantano’s efforts unhitched the yellow jersey, Alaphilippe, plus Gallopin and others, eventually leaving only a handful of riders in the battle. Contador, looking fighting fit, was weighing his options when Richie Porte attacked.
“Maybe I was a little anxious about the stage win and that made me waver for a second between going for the stage win or the GC. That created a moment of hesitation that Richie capitalized on to attack and get a gap,” said Contador. “Then I started to analyze the situation to see what we could do, and I decided to push really hard to put time into the people ahead of me in the GC and see if we could catch Richie.”
Contador and Henao collaborated to gain time on the others. With the Colombian safely in the virtual yellow jersey, Contador went ahead by himself. He came to the line alone, second to Porte, while Martin clawed back and snatched the remaining bonus from Henao. “At first I went with Henao, but in the end he was dropped and lost just a few seconds. The one who’s still there is Dan Martin,” said Contador.
With one stage remaining, the overall victory is a big ask. Contador will be looking for opportunities. “I’m feeling well and happy because physically I felt better than I did yesterday, and tomorrow we have a new day. It’s a shame that it’s not a summit finish, but we’ll see what happens,” he said.
RESULTS: Contador in Stage 7, 2nd (0:21 Richie Porte – 5:01:35). Contador in GC, 3rd (0:31 Sergio Henao - 27:01:15).
TOP TEN: 1 Henao, 2 D. Martin (0:30), 3 Contador (0:31), 4 G. Izaguirre (1:00), 5 Alaphilippe (1:22), 6 Zakarin (1:34), 7 J. Izaguirre (1:41), 8 Gallopin (3:22), 9 Barguil (4:07), 10 S. Yates (4:39)
Contador rounds a hairpin curve with his most direct rivals on the Col de Bourigaille (Colin Flockton)
Stage 6, March 10: Aubagne – Fayence, 193.5 km
RESULTS: Contador in Stage 6, 8th (0:32 S. Yates - 4:37:51). Contador in GC, 7th (1:34 Alaphilippe - 21:58:22).
TOP TEN: 1 Alaphilippe, 2 Gallopin (0:36), 3 Henao (0:46), 4 G. Izaguirre (0:57), 5 D. Martin (1:20), 6 Zakarin (1:31), 7 Contador (1:34), 8 S. Yates (1:37), 9 J. Izaguirre (2:04), 10 Barguil (3:08)
REUTERS | by Julien Pretot, AIX EN PROVENCE | Alberto Contador, who hopes to be remembered as an “anti-conformist”, believes he can still win the Tour de France staying true to his swashbuckling style. Speaking to Reuters after the fifth stage of Paris-Nice, the twice Tour champion said he will always be ready to risk everything in order to win. “It’s important for me to race for victory, regardless of the race,” the Spaniard said on Thursday night after dinner in his team hotel in southern France.
Style, however, matters to Contador, who has built a reputation as a flamboyant rider who would rather be seen as a beautiful loser than an ugly winner. “I am more satisfied with myself after a ride like Paris-Nice last year (when he attacked early on looking to unsettle eventual winner Geraint Thomas) than after a straightforward win that means nothing,” he said. “I hope that I will be remembered as an anti-conformist.”
Contador, one of only six riders with titles in all three grand tours – France, Italy and Spain – is regarded as one of the most aggressive riders in history, having overturned a desperate situation in the 2012 Vuelta or in the 2015 Giro. “To me, the most important thing is to fight on my bike regardless of the race, it’s the only way I can enjoy being a bike rider,” he said.
Contador is seventh overall in Paris-Nice, 1:34 off the pace but still with a chance of victory ahead of Saturday’s decisive mountain stage. While many riders, including three-times Tour champion Chris Froome, often use second-tier races just to fine-tune their preparations, Contador admits he struggles to stay quiet when he sees opportunities to win. “Since last November, I have been trying to visualise going to the (Tour warm-up race) Dauphine only to prepare for the Tour, not to go full gas,” he said. “It’s always hard for me to go to a race and refrain from attacking.”
TRICKY ALLIANCE Contador, 34, will be looking to save his energy for the Tour, a race he has not managed to win since 2009, fuelling speculation that his best days are behind him. “I’ve had bad luck with crashes in 2014 and 2016, and in 2015, riding and winning the Giro in 2015 took too much strength out of me. So that’s why I’m still motivated to win the Tour and believe I can do it – I have not been able to show my best in the last three years,” he said.
Contador can also draw motivation from the route of the Tour, which seems tailor-made for him. “It’s a course that I like, with short stages and several successive climbs. It gives opportunities to aggressive riders,” he said. It will, however, be difficult to shake up Team Sky, whose often conservative way of riding has always made it hard for their rivals to break free. Contador could try to blow up the race with the complicity of several other riders such as France’s Romain Bardet, second overall last year, but alliances are not easy to forge. “It is always difficult to set up alliances because everyone has their own interest at heart, but depending on the circumstances, it still is a possibility,” he said. Contador this year will rely on a strong Trek Segafredo team, which he joined during the close season after the Tinkoff outfit folded. “It was quite easy to blend in as we’re about a dozen riders who are new to the team,” he said.
Contador works with teammate Jarlinson Pantano in the peloton (Colin Flockton)
Stage 5, Wednesday, March 9: Quincié-en-Beaujolais – Bourg-de-Péage, 199.5 km
Alberto Contador reached the finish line safely in the pack again today in Stage 5 of Paris-Nice, arriving in the same time as stage winner Andre Greipel. In the general classification he remains 1:31 off the lead.
“It was a day of considerable wear and tear in first part of the stage, with lots of ups and downs, lots of curves, changes of pace, and the bike did well because the asphalt was not very good. That’s punishing, it was grueling,” said Alberto after the stage. “Tomorrow the mountains begin and we’ll have to see how the legs respond. The finish is very promising for the race leader, Alaphilippe, because there’s a wall similar to Huy, the one in Fleche Wallone. There are riders here who do really well in finishes like this, like Henao or Dan Martin. We’ll see how each rider’s legs are feeling.
“The weather is improving and that's an important development for avoiding additional risks due to rain. It seems that, from here on, the sun will come out a little and that will make the race go better. Plus, every day my health is improving. I hope to finish Paris-Nice well,” said Alberto.
RESULTS: Contador in Stage 5, 55th (s.t. Greipel – 4:43:35). Contador in GC, 9th (1:31 Alaphilippe – 17:20:02).
TOP TEN: 1 Alaphilippe, 2 Gallopin (0:33), 3 G. Izaguirre (0:47), 4 Henao (1:05), 5 D. Martin (1:20), 6 Gilbert (1:24), 7 Zakarin (1:28), 8 Demare (1:29), 9 Contador (1:31), 10 Molard (1:32)
Contador gives his all on Mont Brouilly (Colin Flockton)
Stage 4, March 8: Beujeu – Mont Brouilly, 14.5 km (ITT)
Alberto Contador put in an excellent performance at today’s Stage 4 time trial in Paris-Nice, but victory nevertheless slipped through fingers. After besting everyone else in the 14.5-km test ending on Mont Brouilly, Alberto had to give up the leader’s seat of honor to young Julian Alaphilippe, the next-to-last rider to finish. The Frenchman was faster by 19”, which gained him both the stage win and the yellow jersey.
“I think that we’ve done a good time trial, but Alaphilippe got away, especially on the part going into the climb. My congratulations to him, he’s a really big talent. Now it’s time to think about tomorrow,” said Contador before heading to the team bus.
Contador is now in 8th place in the general classification, 1:31 off Alaphilippe’s lead. Winning the overall title will be difficult. Other riders, like Tony Gallopin – who had better luck than Alberto in the wind and rain of Stage 1 – are more direct rivals to the new race leader. “The race could be a duel between Alaphilippe and Gallopin. Those two are the favorites now, and I’ll be on a second plane. We’ll see what can be done, but winning Paris-Nice will be really complicated,” he said.
RESULTS: Contador in Stage 4, 2nd (0:19 Alaphillipe - 21:39). Contador in GC, 8th (1:31 Alaphilippe - 12:36:27).
TOP TEN: 1 Alaphilippe, 2 Gallopin (0:33), 3 G. Izaguirre (0:47), 4 Henao (1:05), 5 D. Martin (1:20), 6 Gilbert (1:24), 7 Zakarin (1:28), 8 Contador (1:31), 9 Molard (1:32), 10 Demare (1:35)
Coverage of Contador's ride begins at at 1:02
Alberto Contador in Paris Nice Stage 3 (Bettini/Trek-Segafredo)
Stage 3, March 7: Chablis – Chalon-sur-Saône, 190 km
Alberto Contador finished Stage 3 of Paris-Nice calmly in the peloton today thanks to a break in the stormy spring weather. As the pack left northern France, heading southeast from Chablis through Burgundy, the March winds abated and there was sunshine amid the showers. Irishman Sam Bennett won the sprint finale; Contador and about a hundred other riders finished in the same time.
“It was a slightly calmer stage,” said Alberto at the finish line, “at least regarding the wind, which wasn’t that strong, and it only rained a little. We appreciated riding on dry roads. We survived the day without any problems.”
As a televised sporting event, today was more travelogue and less blood-in-the-arena. For the riders, it was a chance for to recover on the eve of the individual time trial. “Every day is important, and we’ll have to see what kind of legs we’ve got after these first three days,” said Alberto.
Wednesday’s 14.5-km race against the clock ends with the climb of Mont Brouilly, and will help to define which GC men will be fighting for the title in the mountains this weekend. “Tomorrow I think that there will be big time differences,” Contador said. “We’ll see how we’ve recovered, because it’s an important day and we’ll have to give it everything we can, and then we’ll see where we end up.”
“On paper it’s a flat route in the beginning with the final three kilometers uphill, but I’m not going to see it until tomorrow morning. Also, it will be difficult to get a look at it, because the hotel is more than 100 kilometers away, but at least I’ll see it once. I think that it’s good for me thanks to the uphill final part.”
RESULTS: Contador in Stage 2, 54th (s.t. Bennett – 4:31:14). Contador in GC, 21st (1:18 Demare – 12:14:42).
TOP FIVE: 1 Demare, 2 Alaphilippe (0:06), 3 Kristoff (0:13), 4 Gilbert (0:17), 5 Gallopin (0:19)
Stage 2 weather was even worse than Stage 1 (Philippe López/AFP)
Stage 2, March 6: Rochefort-en-Yvelines – Amilly, 195 km
Alberto Contador finished safely in the front group today in Stage 2 of Paris-Nice after brutal weather once again triggered chaos on the road. Teammate John Degenkolb narrowly missed the win, which went to Sonny Colbrelli. Arnaud Demare held onto the lead in the GC.
Wind, cold and rain created a grisly scenario on the road for the second day in a row. Today, however, Contador and Trek-Segafredo turned in an excellent performance.
“The truth is that it was a hellish day from the very beginning,” said Alberto at the finish line. “By the time we’d gone 10 kilometers the peloton had already started to split into a thousand groups. There was unbelievable tension, and the peloton was split to pieces.”
He continued, “I was riding in a pretty good position, but later I fell back to a different group behind. In the end the team did well because several teammates bridged from the back and set a high pace that enabled them to catch the front group of as many as twenty riders, and, well, in the end we were able to get through the day without problems.”
Degenkolb would have dogeared this stage in his route book for the win and had been the lone Trek-Segafredo rider in the front group all along. Alberto commiserated, but was also clearly grateful for what he and Trek’s domestiques Rast, Gogl, Theuns and Zubeldia had achieved in pulling him back into contention: “It’s a shame that we weren’t able to get the stage win with John, but we got through a day that was dangerous due to the wind, the cold, the rain… It’s been one of those days that my legs will remember for a long time, but we managed to bridge to the front. Now it’s time to recover as well as possible and get warm. Tomorrow’s another day.”
As for yesterday’s time loss, there’s no denying reality, but Contador is not discouraged. “The time differences to some riders yesterday were really big, but a lot of stages remain and a thousand things could happen. The most important thing is to recover well day by day to see what we can do when we reach our turf, and see if we get through this first part.”
A final note: There were relatively few mishaps today, but two of those that did occur will be significant for Alberto. First, the anticipated duel between Contador and Richie Porte is already over. Porte was dropped today and lost more than fourteen minutes. Second, Jesús Hernández, Contador’s best friend and roommate on the road, has abandoned with stomach flu.
RESULTS: Contador in Stage 2, 36th (s.t. Colbrelli – 4:20:59). Contador in GC, 19th (1:18 Demare – 7:23:48).
TOP FIVE: 1 Demare, 2 Alaphilippe (0:06), 3 Gilbert (0:17), 4 Kristoff (0:19), 5 Gallopin (0:19)
Stage 1 was a mess from start to finish, thanks to foul weather (Paris-Nice)
Stage 1, March 5th: Bois-d’Arcy – Bois-d’Arcy, 148.5 km
The hopes of Alberto Contador and his Trek-Segafredo team were materially damaged right off the bat today as foul weather made a mess of Stage 1 of Paris-Nice.
“It was an extremely tough stage, one hundred percent Paris-Nice,” said a cheerful Contador after the stage. “From the outset there was a lot of pressure, danger, wind… that’s Paris-Nice all over. They call it the Race to the Sun, but I don’t know why,” he said with a smile.
Strong winds broke the peloton into echelons early in the stage. A few GC men made the front split, but others – among them Contador, Porte, and Bardet – were left behind and forced to play a desperate game of catchup.
Chaos was unleashed when Bardet crashed at 22 kilometers before the finish. The accident detained Trek’s Degenkolb, who had been a likely candidate for the win, as well as Contador’s gregario Pantano, who was then nearly knocked off the bike by a team car from another squad. Bardet's way out of the pickle was to use his team car to catapult him back into the action. He was expelled from the race.
Arnaud Demare won the stage over a reduced field of clasicómanos.
Trek-Segafredo had some issues performing as a unit, perhaps due to early-season growing pains or simply because of a deluge of complicating factors. The sad truth is that Contador was left to fight on his own on a day when success depended on support. Nevertheless, he finished 20th, but ended up losing 17” to Porte and 1:04 to Demare.
“I think that I’ve lost precious time,” Contador said stoically. “I think that you always have to look at it from this point of view, but there were two or three times that we came close to crashing but didn’t, so all things considered, things are not as bad as they would’ve been if we’d crashed.”
“Of course, stages like this are key because often in Paris-Nice these stages turn out to have more impact than the mountain ones and the time trials, as today has demonstrated,” Alberto explained. “In the end we lost time to the favorites, but we were on the brink of hitting the ground and stayed upright. Tomorrow’s another day.”
He continued, “The team did well. At some difficult moments the team was riding as a unit, but in the final part Degenkolb and Pantano were caught up in the crash and that was hard for me because I had to be fighting for position going into the finale and I used up a lot energy. When Richie Porte attacked, my legs felt really heavy and I couldn’t follow him. But tomorrow’s another day.”
Paris-Nice has barely begun; lots of opportunities and lots of unknowns remain. “First of all, we need to know what happens tomorrow, and afterwards we’ll see if we’re able to push it to the max,” Alberto said. “A lot of things could happen tomorrow, too.”
Steven de Jongh, Trek-Segafredo DS: "We lost Dege and Pantano with the crash, but they luckily didn't crash, and in the final, Alberto also lost some seconds to Porte. It's a lot of time [lost] to some rivals, but tomorrow is another day like this. Paris-Nice is very difficult at the end of the last three stages, so still a lot can happen. Okay, it could have been better for us today, but we still have a lot to play."
RESULTS: Contador in Stage 1, 20th (1:04 Demare – 3:22:43). Contador in GC, 20th (1:14 Demare – 3:22:33).
TOP FIVE: 1 Demare, 2 Alaphilippe (0:04), 3 Kristoff (0:15), 4 Gilbert (0:16), 5 Gallopin (0:17)
The 75th edition of Paris-Nice, the Race to the Sun, starts this Sunday, March 5, and runs through next Sunday, March 12.
Alberto Contador will lead his new Trek-Segafredo team in the north-to-south ramble that forms one of his favorite preparation races. Joined by German classics man cum sprinter John Degenkolb, Colombian ITT champion Jarlinson Pantano and a rock-solid list of helpers, Contador will aim high in his most demanding race of the year to date.
Join us daily during the stages at @Contador_Notebk. Get to know the route at our RACE ATLAS, and check back here for reports, press items and photos.
Riding for Trek-Segafredo: 11 Alberto Contador, 12 John Degenkolb, 13 Michael Gogl, 14 Jesús Hernández, 15 Jarlinson Pantano, 16 Gregory Rast, 17 Edward Theuns, 18 Haimar Zubeldia