www.albertocontadornotebook.info - Alberto Contador Fans Notebook







The Year of the Triple Crown

Photo credit: Newsletter logo - Graham Watson for The Paceline



June 7 -14, 2009

Stage 8 – June 14: Faverges – Grenoble, 146km

Alejandro Valverde hung on to his lead in today's hilly stage to win the overall title in the 2009 edition of the Dauphiné Libéré. Cadel Evans continued attacks on Valverde, but for the third day in a row, Valverde resisted, never seeming to be put under much stress by the Australian.

Stage 8 Alberto Contador stayed with the leaders without making any real attempt to claim leadership. He finished his third career appearance at the Dauphiné on the podium, in third place overall.

Contador has now tested his new time trial bike and ridden his legs into form.

He has also gotten a feel for what it's like to cope with summer allergies this year, as opposed to last year when he experienced constant breathing problems due to a deviated septum. The septum, which didn't prevent him winning the Giro and the Vuelta, was corrected by surgery last December.

Next stop, Tour de France!

GO TO Christine's Diary, Stage 8


Alberto Contador concluded the Dauphiné Libéré today in third place in the general classification, feeling that he’d done significant work in preparation, which was his goal in this race. “The conclusions that I’ve drawn here are very positive. I came here with the goal of doing important preparation for the Tour, and I think that I reached that goal. Every day I’ve gotten better,” said the leader of Astana.

“Unlike at other races, I came to the Dauphiné without having done series, intensity or motor pacing, which is the groundwork for getting in competition rhythm. I came planning to be still on the upward curve. Besides, I also noticed certain allergy problems, but the main thing is that I’ve found my legs and that I’m leaving very happy about the time trial,” said Contador.

After the Dauphiné, Contador says confidently that he doesn’t have “much more to do before the Tour, because the fundamental work is done. I’ve got some training left, and I’m taking the opportunity to rest. Right now, I’m really going to take it easy for three or four days.”

About future rivals in the Tour, he states that there will be more opponents than just the ones who rode this race. “None of the guys riding in the Tour de Suisse were here, nor the ones who rode the Giro d’Italia. Cadel Evans looks very strong to me, maybe further ahead in form than I am, while Alejandro Valverde has hit a very good competition rhythm. For me, it was a good sign to have been able to be at his level after two months without competing.”

Finally, Contador says that there are notable differences between the rider he was when he rode to win the Tour for the first time in 2007 and the rider he is now. “What’s most important is that now I’m a more complete rider. Before, I sometimes still had doubts about my performance in a grand tour, but now, on the other hand, I know that if I do it well, I’ll be there. Winning is a different matter, because that’s always complicated. That’s what has allowed me to be more conservative here, because I think that this year’s preparation is going much better than in 2007.” (AC press room)

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 8, 47th (2.05 Stef Clement). Contador in GC, 3rd (1.18 Valverde). Teams competition winner: Astana.

TOP FIVE: 1 - Valverde (26.33.15), 2 - Evans (0.16), 3 - Contador (1.18), 4 - Gesink (2.41), 5 - Astarloza (3.40)

Ou est Grenoble?

Stage 7 – June 13: Briançon – Saint-François-Longchamp, 157km
Alberto Contador rode light and cool as a disembodied spirit while Cadel Evans lumbered up the ascent to Saint-François-Longchamp today in Stage 7 of the Dauphiné Libéré.

Stage 7 Race leader Alejandro Valverde paired with Contador and acted as dumbbells to weight the hands of Evans. The Australian did not play the mental game, attacking repeatedly from the front with no sense of mischief or subtlety.

The elegant Valverde went pop after crossing, nearly falling into the hands of a soigneur. Contador gave, rather than lost, 14 seconds to Valverde and Evans.

Seeing Alberto ride conservatively in a queen stage is unusual. However, as he has said from the beginning, he's training for the Tour de France, not looking for a win in the Dauphiné.

It makes perfect sense to refrain from stuffing on appetizers rather than risk spoiling a three-week feast...

GO TO Christine's Diary, Stage 7

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 7, 6th (0.55 Moncoutié). Contador in GC, 3rd (1.18 Valverde)

TOP THREE: 1 - Valverde, 2 - Evans (0.16), 3 - Contador (1.18)

Ou est Grenoble?

Stage 6 – June 12: Gap – Briançon, 106km

Alberto Contador emerged from a narrow medieval corridor in Briançon today, in a furious scrum with rivals Alejandro Valverde and Cadel Evans.

Like three Siamese fighting fish, Contador in blue and yellow kit, Evans in the green points jersey, and Valverde in the maillot jaune darted around the last curve and towards the line in a scramble for time.

Stage 8 A few seconds would have meant security for leader Valverde, capture of the yellow jersey for Evans, and for Contador, maybe just a bit of fun - he's only thinking about the Tour de France.

But as it turned out, there was no material gain for the three top men, just a thrill for us, the fans. They all arrived at 4'12" behind stage winner Perrick Fédrigo of Bbox.

FYI: Of the three, Contador crossed first.

GO TO Christine's Diary, Stage 6

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 6, 13th (4:12). Contador in GC, 2nd (1.04).

TOP FIVE: Valverde; Evans, (0.16), Contador (1.04), Astarloza (1.49), Millar (1.52)

Ou est Grenoble?

Stage 5 – June 11: Valence – Le Mont Ventoux, 154km

GO TO Christine's Diary, Stage 5


Alberto Contador completed the climb of Mont Ventoux today in the wake of Cadel Evans, without jumping into the fight for the stage or the general classification. The plan had been set before the race. “We took the start with the idea of holding back. I’m thinking about the Tour and I don’t want to get beat up,” said the leader of Astana, who congratulated Alejandro Valverde for the great stage win that put him into the leader’s jersey.

“Mont Ventoux was like it always is, a climb marked by wind in the final kilometers. The wind had a huge influence and caused a shuffle in the lead group, because the people that tried to attack payed for their efforts as a result. The ones that went out front also suffered, but since they went at a steady pace, they were able to keep going,” said Contador about the last ascent.

Stage 5 “I started it strong, but I was determined to keeping an eye on Evans, and that’s just what happened. I didn’t want to get into that brawl, it wasn’t my fight and as Haimar was out in front, I stopped dithering about it,” Contador said about his tactics.

He sees Evans as strongest among his rivals. “He’s at a very high point in his form, but today he had to do all the work himself because he had no team, and when you hang on everybody else’s wheel, you don’t give everything, because you’re always expecting that they might attack you. For Alejandro Valverde, he was very strong. In the early kilometers of the climb he told me that he wanted to have a go, and he asked me what I was going to do. I told him that I was going to stick to Evans, and then he decided to attack. I’d like to take the opportunity to congratulate him here.”

In the days to come, Contador is says that it’s still necessary to hope “to see Evans’ plans, because today was an extremely difficult day to be leader and I know that very well. I think that I’ll still try to get back some time. As for me, I’ll keep trying to avoid getting beat up in this race, but I’ll do it as well as possible, like today, without spending more strength than necessary.”

Alberto Contador, then, made a positive account of his performance. “I’m happy with this result. It was pretty much like I expected. I’ve seen which guys emerged at the front, but in this race I can allow myself to relax a little. It’s wasn’t super, but it was what I expected, because if I’m at my peak now, when I have to come back to this mountain in five weeks, I won’t be able to finish as well.” (AC press room)

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 5, 8th (2:13). Contador in GC, 2nd (1.04).

TOP FIVE: Valverde; Evans, (0.16), Contador (1.04), Millar (1.43), Zubeldia (2.21)

Ou est Grenoble?

Stage 4 – June 10: Bourg-Les-Valence – Valence (ITT), 42.4km

Alberto got the chance today to sink his teeth into a thorough trial of his new custom crono bike, a Trek TTX. The new maching has a dazzling black-and-white paint job, reminiscent of Goedel-Escher-Bach. Details and Graham Watson photo gallery here.

Stage 4 Alberto's ride didn't produce a stage win - he came 5th to Columbia's Bert Grabsch, the reigning world champion who completed the course in 51.26. But he was happy, describing a "tough and demanding" stage, with "a strong wind that increased as the day went on. Things went pretty well and the test was very good, even though I lost a little time on a rider like Evans in a TT with these characteristics."

Race leader Terpstra suffered a minor crash and arrived in 114th place, losing the yellow jersey to Cadel Evans. Contador is 2nd to Evans in the points category, and will climb Mont Ventoux tomorrow in the green jersey.

Some interesting stats about Contador's day: while he lost 0.44 to Gesink, he lost only 0.04 to Tour-rival Evans, and only 0.05 to specialist David Millar. On the other hand, he gained 0.55 on Valverde, and a whopping 2.00 on Dauphiné-hopeful Ivan Basso.

GO TO Christine's Diary, Stage 4


Alberto Contador finished in fifth place in today’s 42-kilometer time trial, 44 seconds behind stage winner Bert Grabsch. This moves him to second place in the provisional general classification, 45 seconds behind Cadel Evans. The result was, in his opinion, “very very good for me in respect to my future Tour rivals, especially Evans.”

Contador said that the route was “completely flat, for pure rolleurs, as demonstrated by the win by Grabsch, who might weigh 20 kilos more than I do. I’m very happy for that, for having finished a test like this in such a short time. It’s clear that I still have to put in hours of training on this bicycle, but my preparation for the Tour is going perfectly,” he said.

As for the general classification, Alberto says with confidence that he’s “not worried about anything. As I said before coming here, in the Dauphiné I’m looking for a good tune-up, and not to expend more strength than necessary by fighting for the victory. I want to take the opportunity to recover well every day and not wind up wasted.” Despite this, he’s aware of his favorable situation. “In light of the several very tough days ahead, I’ve got a good enough placing, but I repeat that it doesn’t worry me.”

“Evans is demonstrating that he’s at a superior moment of form to everybody else,” he commented about the Australian, “but in my case, what I’m looking for is to take it one step at a time, planning for the future. Evans has done a very good time trial, while Valverde and other people lost some time with respect to me, which is encouraging.”

Finally, Contador analyzed tomorrow’s stage, with the finish line at the top of Mont Ventoux. “There’ll be a lot of people that aren’t very far back in the general who’ll try something. I think that Lotto wants to fight for the overall and we will be ready for them, although as I’ve said, I don’t want to expend more strength than is necessary. I want to be prudent, and to see how the race goes in order to decide what tactics to employ. Probably Valverde, Gesink or Nibali will make a move, guys that aren’t too far back and can put up a vicious fight in the mountains.” (AC press room)

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 4, 5th (0.44 Robert Gesink). Contador in the GC, 2nd (0.45 Cadel Evans). GC, Points, 2nd.

TOP FIVE: Evans, Contador (0.45), Grabsch (0.48), Rabon (1.07), Millar (1.09)

Ou est Grenoble?

Stage 3 – June 9: Tournus – Saint-Étienne, 182km

Nothing much but work today, unless you were a member of that maverick escape.

GO TO Christine's Diary, Stage 3


Alberto Contador finished Stage 3 of the Dauphiné Libéré already looking ahead to tomorrow’s race against the clock. He hopes to test himself in the time trial, even though he considers his state of form still short of optimum. “I’m starting out with a few unknowns, I don’t know exactly how it will go, because I haven’t been working on this type of effort like I have on other occasions. What I’m coming here to find is a good tune-up, so it’s quite possible that I won’t win,” said the leader of Astana.

Stage 3 How was the stage today?

A transitional stage, but one with accompanying punishment for the legs, especially in the last part, with up and down terrain that forced us to concentrate. The pack arrived at a minute and a half, and I think that everybody was thinking about the time trial tomorrow.

What do you expect tomorrow?

I expect what will make a good day is looking at the route in the morning and seeing how it seems, although for me it would be even better if the weather were not very good, to keep down the allergies. At any rate, I want to test myself.

What do you think of the route?

I’ve only seen the race book, and there’s a little climb of three kilometers, but tomorrow I’ll find out exactly what it’s like.

Who are the favorites?

Above all the rest is Evans, who is very strong. Then there’s a group that includes me, along with Alejandro Valverde, Millar and some other guys. I don’t know, the race will be very different from the one on the first day.

The team is wearing jerseys with advertisements again. What do you think of that?

Most recently they’ve told us that in the morning we would leave wearing the normal jerseys because the sponsor is now up to date with the payments. That’s good news in my opinion, because it’s reassuring not only for the riders, but also for the staff and all members of the team. Our goal now is the Tour, and it’s in our best interest to stay calm in order to concentrate 100% on preparing for it.

How’ve you been in these first few days of the race?

I notice that I haven’t raced in a long time. I like an agile pedaling style, and I’m still struggling to get that, which makes sense, because I’ve gone two months without competing. It would be weird if I already had it, and I wouldn’t like it, because what I intend is still to be a little short of form.

Will you use the new bike again?

Yes, because adapting to it is precisely what I’m looking to do in this time trial. The more races I do with it, the more familiar I’ll be with it going into the Tour.

Did you like the feel of it in the first time trial?

Yes, although it wasn’t a route for taking maximum advantage of the bike. Because of the climb, the descent and the curves, there were far fewer kilometers to settle into it. Tomorrow will be different. (AC press room)

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 4, 52nd at 1.32. Conador on GC: 1..4

Ou est Grenoble?

Stage 2 – June 8: Nancy – Dijon, 228km

Alberto Contador finished in the pack today, as the sprinters robbed last-minute escapee David Millar of victory at 35 meters from the line. Contador spent the day in the green points jersey, rightfully the property of Evans, who's in the leader jersey.

Predicted bad weather didn’t materialize until late in the stage. Millar passed under the flamme rouge with enough lead to make a win still plausible, but the sprinters pushed ahead, confident that they could catch him, with the main pack not far behind.

Stage 2 Angelo Furlan of Lampre won the sprint. Behind him, a crash happened in the final 500 meters of wet pavement, but Contador, who said that he “saw it coming,” avoided any trouble.

GO TO Christine's Diary, Stage 2

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 2, 37th (s.t. Angelo Furlan). Contador in the GC – 2nd (0.08)
TOP FIVE: 1 - Cadel Evans, 2 – Alberto Contador (0.08), 3 - Alejandro Valverde (0.23), 4 - Sébastien Roessler (0.33), 5 - Vincenzo Nibali (0.34)

Ou est Grenoble?

Prologue – June 7: Nancy – Nancy, 12.1km

Alberto Contador finished a strong second behind Cadel Evans today in the 12.1 km time-trial prologue at the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré.

Evans did a phenomenal ride, with only Contador finishing in the vicinity, at 0.08. Last year's overall winner, Alejandro Valverde, arrived a not-too-distant third at 0.25.

Contador was trying out a new Trek time-trial bike for the Tour de France. On the new machine, he turned up just three seconds off Evans' time at the first check (the climb). But as the kilometers ticked by, there was no catching a man on such a great day as Evans. The Australian, who has finished in second place overall in the last two years, got what he earned: the stage win and the leader jersey.

Stage 1 GO TO Christine's Diary, Prologue


Alberto was happy with the day, saying that he only "lacked a bit of sparkle at the end."

Astana's French DS, Alain Gallopin, offered the press some insight into the performances of Contador and Evans, who will fight again in the Tour.

from Cyclingnews:

"They both arrived fresh and motivated," said Astana's directeur sportif Alain Gallopin, who was happy to see his protégé Contador "turning the legs very quickly, especially towards the top of the hill". That's where Contador was just three seconds behind Evans. After a good start, the Australian pulled of a finish that was relatively faster than his rivals.

Gallopin noted that the freshness of Evans and Contador was unlike the condition of Ivan Basso (Liquigas). The Italian is racing the Dauphiné right after the Giro d'Italia. Today, Basso scored 41st, one minute behind Evans. However, Basso did suffer a mechanical problem. After one kilometer, a screw fixing Basso's handlebar came undone and remained loose until the end.

"It's possible that toward the end of the Dauphiné, the situation will switch. The foundation that Basso built during the Giro might play to his favour," said Gallopin, who was the team director overseeing Basso at CSC when he won the 2006 Giro.

Riding with Alberto Contador this week are Alexandr Dyachenko, Jesús Hernández, Benjamin Noval, Sergio Paulinho, Sergey Renev, and Tomas Vaitkus. DS: Alain Gallopin, Dirk Demol

RESULTS: Contador, prologue, 2nd (0.08). Contador in the GC, 2nd (0.08)
TOP FIVE: Cadel Evans (total time 15.37), Alberto Contador (0.08), Alejandro Valverde (0.23), Sébastien Roessler 0.33), vincenzo Nibali (0.34)

Ou est Grenoble?


The Notebook at the Dauphiné Libéré - updated

The Alberto Contador Notebook's fan reporter Christine Kahane will be on the scenes at the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, June 7-14.

If you've read Christine's reports at CHECHURUBIERA.INFO, you know that her circle of friends includes many cyclists, directors, soigneurs, mechanics and all the other types of people required to produce a bike race.

Join us for her daily column (with great photos!) throughout the race, as she visits the troops behind the lines.

2008 RACES

Race Watch 2008

The Year of the Triple Crown: Reports, results, photos, comments


All text © 2007-2008 Rebecca Bell, contadorfans@hotmail.com.
Web design by Nicky Orr and Modem Operandi. Masthead photo credits: (1) bbc.co.uk (2) Liz Kreutz, kreutzphotography.com.