www.albertocontadornotebook.info - Alberto Contador Fans Notebook



July 27 - Alberto is crowned Tour king for the third time

Tour de France 2010 Stage 19

Three! (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Alberto Contador won the 2010 Tour de France on Sunday in Paris after an epic three-week battle. It was his third career victory in the Tour, and his fifth grand tour victory, and he's done it all before his 28th birthday.

Hear the feature on National Public Radio from the USA:


July 24 - Alberto claims the jersey as the clock runs out on Schleck

Tour de France 2010 Stage 19

A very emotional podium for Alberto (Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty Images)

Alberto Contador became the virtual winner of the 2010 Tour de France today after extending his lead over Andy Schleck in the 52-kilometer individual time trial from Bordeaux to Pauillac.

Just as Alberto had predicted, it was a hard-fought result. After the pressure and the enormous effort, he was visibly emotional on the podium—more so than at Verbier last year.

“This morning when I woke up, I felt very well, I had slept well. But today I can say that I suffered. I think that Andy suffered too. It was very hard,” Alberto said after the stage. “I had problems getting into my rhythm. But I wanted absolutely to be focused on my position, on aerodynamics.

“It hasn’t been my best Tour, I’ve had doubts, but I won. The time trial in the Tour de France will never be like other races. I’m emotional because it was a very difficult victory. It wasn’t easy in 2007 either, or last year, but today is unbelievable. It’s an enormous relief.”

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 19, 35th (5:43 Cancellara). Contador in the GC, 1st (total time 89:16:27)

TOP FIVE: 1 Alberto Contador, 2 Andy Schleck (0:08), 3 Denis Menchov (2:01), 4 Samuel Sánchez (3:40), 5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (6:54)


July 23 - Flat stage accomplished, the scene is set for the final ITT

Tour de France 2010 Stage 18

Alberto Contador, leader of the Tour de France 2010 (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Stage 18, Friday, July 23: Salies-de-Béarn - Bordeaux, 198 km

“Tomorrow will be an especially difficult day”
Alberto Contador finished today’s stage—on the day before the Bordeaux time trial—with relief, mainly due to the dangerous final kilometers. “It was windy all day, but luckily it was from the front and from one side. The danger has been more in the final kilometers, although maybe it seemed more that way to me because we’re already in the last days of the race,” said the leader of Astana.

Concerning tomorrow’s time trial, he said that it will be “an especially difficult day because the final time trial of a grand tour is influenced more by a rider’s strength than by being a specialist, and Andy Schleck is very confident since he’s his country’s national champion.”

Alberto did reconnaissance of the time trial route on the Sunday before the Tour began, making a quick round trip from Madrid to check the conditions of a potentially crucial stage. “At the beginning of the Tour, I planned to keep this time trial as the last card to play if I were even with Andy or a little behind, but it’s still going to be especially difficult. It’s a flat route through the vineyards, where you can hardly ever get out of the saddle and where the wind direction will have major impact.”

“Tomorrow will be a very difficult day and we’re going to have to suffer,” he continued, “because it’s more than an hour of effort at full tilt.” About his strategy, he said that it will be very simple. “It’s not a question of watching vigilantly another rider, but of going as fast as you can. I’ll have the advantage, at any rate, of leaving last and having the splits, but that’s all.”

Alberto started the race today on a special bicycle with the names of 250 of his fans written on the frame, but out on the course he experienced a small mechanical problem and had to change bikes. “It was a shame not to be able to finish the stage with this bike, but it made me really excited to be able to start the race with it and to feel the support of all the people who wanted to share a day of the Tour with me. The bike is spectacular.” (Official press release, AC press room)

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 18, 56th (s.t. Cavendish). Contador in the GC, 1st (total time 88:09:48)

TOP FIVE: 1 Alberto Contador, 2 Andy Schleck (0:08), 3 Samuel Sánchez (3:32), 4 Denis Menchov (3:54), 5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (5:27)



Alberto Contador got one day closer to Paris in the yellow jersey today, as the Tour de France arrived at Bordeaux in a bunch sprint won by Mark Cavendish.

Stage 18 consisted of 198 windy and flat kilometers departing from Salies-de-Béarn. Contador rode surrounded by his teammates. He began the day on a custom-designed Specialized bicycle decorated with the signatures of 250 fans but, unfortunately, had to change bikes after about 98 kilometers. Perhaps due to a problem with set-up, Alberto pulled over and swapped the special bike for a spare from the top of the team car.

Otherwise, the Astana riders took it easy during the stage. They rode together in the front third of the peloton, with Saxo Bank, Rabobank and other well-placed teams doing the same.

Alberto and team got out of the way in the final kilometers, as the sprinters hashed it out. At the finish line, he was accompanied onto the leader’s podium by Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise. The screen idols got much more camera time than Nicolas Sarkozy had gotten yesterday on the Tourmalet.

Tomorrow’s stage is a 52-kilometer flat ITT from Bordeaux to Pauillac. Alberto Contador is scheduled to leave the start house at 4:02 in the afternoon.


July 22 - Contador denies himself a kill in favor of the bigger picture

Tour de France 2010 Stage 17

Contador and Schleck reverse the 2009 trend of poisonous polemics (AP Photo)

Stage 17, Thursday, July 22: Pau - Col du Tourmalet, 174 km

Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck crossed the finish line amicably together on the Col du Tourmalet today in a surprise conclusion to the epic Stage 17 of the Tour de France.

Contador defied expectations by finishing second to Schleck today in the queen stage. Alberto, who leads the race despite not having won a stage, marked Schleck—the best young rider—during most of the final 10 kilometers of the legendary ascent.

Alberto made his superb form evident in a lethal-looking attack in the final kilometers. The surprise ending to the stage, however, was a joint creation of the top two riders in this edition of the Tour.

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 17, 2nd (s.t. Andy Schleck). Contador in the GC, 1st (total time 83:32:39)

TOP FIVE: 1 Alberto Contador, 2 Andy Schleck (0:08), 3 Samuel Sánchez (3:32), 4 Denis Menchov (3:54), 5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (5:27)



After a night of torrential rain, the weather remained fickle during the 174-km trek to the summit. Showers alternated with sunshine and dense fog which obscured riders’ vision on the narrow twisting road.

The machinery of the stage was set in steady motion when eight men were set loose in a breakaway. Astana then assumed a place among those on the front of the pack, present, but not riding in formation to control.

Contador’s team, Astana, took good care of him, coming forward to shut down an early escape attempt. Samuel Sánchez—3rd in the GC—crashed hard about a half-hour into the racing, but was able to continue after medical attention, despite having received a heavy blow to the sternum from the handlebars of his bike.

Astana’s battery of power riders—Noval, Grivko and Iglinskiy—worked on the front during much of the ride to and over the Col de Marie-Blanque and on to the the Soulor. The next unit, De la Fuente and Hernández, drove the pace on the slopes until being relieved by climbers Navarro and Tiralongo when the going got tougher. Vinokourov’s position was flexible.

Alberto monitored Andy Schleck, and vice versa, all day. Schleck’s Saxo Bank team shared the work with Astana and Omega Phama-Lotto on behalf of Van Den Broeck.

At Luz-Saint-Sauveur, the 19-kilometer final climb began. As Contador’s teammates finished their day’s work, Alberto stayed near Saxo Bank, who began using up their power riders—Cancellara, O’Grady, Voigt—then shelling off the others in a do-or-die attempt to re-gain the maillot jaune for Andy.

At 10 kilometers before the finish, Schleck pushed forward, timing his move in the wake of an attack by Quick Step’s Carlos Barredo. Alberto countered, followed by Rodriguez, Gesink and a hurting Samu Sánchez. Andy opened a small gap, Alberto followed.

The gap grew. Alberto marked Andy’s every acceleration with no problem. The two moved ahead, passing the remains of the break. Into the mist, yellow followed white.

The kilometers ticked away. 8, 7, 6. Alberto stayed on Andy’s wheel, forcing him to earn every inch. Andy forged ahead, waiting for Alberto’s inevitable attack.

At just before 5 kilometers to goal, the road narrowed and began to wind upwards at about 8%. Andy accelerated again. Alberto responded.

At 4 km, Contador attacked on a steeper section. He removed any doubts about form, allergies, fatigue, and surged ahead effortlessly, as if to demonstrate that he could, if he wished, finish it off in a moment.

But then came a surprise—he slowed, allowing Andy to catch up. Back on Andy’s wheel, the two continued to the line, with bedlam on either side from loud, out-of-control fans in the road. Alberto didn’t attack again, nor did he initiate a sprint.

Schleck took the win, a historic victory at the summit of the Col du Tourmalet on the 100th anniversary of the mountain’s first inclusion in the Tour. A gift from Alberto Contador.

According to Andy

“I’m satisfied with the stage win but I also wanted to turn white into yellow but unfortunately it wasn’t possible. I really tried hard, you have to believe me about that. I changed rhythm and I tried everything but I think we’re on the same level on the climbs. Alberto attacked and I could go with him – it was a quick response – but in the end he didn’t sprint to win the stage because I did the most work. I have a lot of respect for that, it shows that he’s a great champion.

“I tried to find out how he was feeling. You need to look at someone to see how he was coping. I think you can find out a lot if you look someone in the eyes. He didn’t have the sunglasses on today so it was possible to see, that’s why I looked so many times. But he always looked good and that’s kind of what killed me.

“El Pistolero is strong, huh? I could not drop him. He was always there. I wanted to find out if he was getting weak but he didn’t succumb. He even attacked me to show, ‘Hey, listen young boy, I’m still here! You better stop playing these games with me.’

“I’m super happy to win this stage today – it’s the Queen stage of this year’s Tour. To win on the Tourmalet is like a win on Alpe d’Huez.

“When I turned to talk to him, I said: ‘You pass?’ And he didn’t. I would have done the same. Why should he pass me? In the end, he let me win the stage and I’m super happy.”


July 20 - Contador in yellow is home safe after first time up Tourmalet

Tour de France 2010 Stage 16

Alberto Contador on the Stage 16 podium, Pau (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Alberto Contador finished his first stage as leader of the Tour today without any problems, in spite of the rigors of the route. Astana once again did a great job, starting with the climb of the Peyresourde where the skirmishes had already begun. And, on another topic, he also resolved the situation with Andy Schleck that arose yesterday on the climb of Balès. “We’ve used today as a chance to talk and we’ve already patched everything up. Neither of us want our friendship to be ruined by what happened yesterday.”

Alberto did not like the tense situation and was happy to have it worked out. For that reason he posted a video on YouTube. “I did it because I really wanted to, I was in no way obligated. It’s a situation that I did’t like at all, I’m not like that and, mainly, I did it because of the great relationship that I have with him. We’re friends and we’ve talked during and after the race. We’ve settled everything, because we don’t want it to ruin our friendship.”

About the race, Alberto explained that it was “a difficult day. Right after we started there were a lot of attacks, and at 10 kilometers from the climb there were only fourteen of us at the front. It was complicated because the peloton was in shreds and there were 190 kilometers left, but the team did really well.”

“We never lost our cool, even for a second,” he continued, “because we knew that we had to control the race from the outset until the interests of people who were competing for the top spots came into play.” Now everything depends on what happens Thursday on the climb of the Tourmalet and Saturday in the time trial. “The Tourmalet stage will be a beautiful day,” said Alberto, who declined further comment about the time trial. “First we’ll see what happens on the Tourmalet. Then we’ll talk about the time trial,” he finished. (Official press release, AC press room)

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 16, 22nd (6:45 Pierrick Fedrigo). Contador in the GC, 1st (total time 78:29:19).

TOP FIVE: 1 Alberto Contador, 2 Andy Schleck (0:08), 3 Samuel Sanchez (2:00), 4 Denis Menchov (2:13), 5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (3:39)


Alberto rode safely in the maillot jaune from Bagnères-de-Luchon to Pau today in Stage 16 of the Tour de France. He finished the 199.5-kilometer route covering some of the giants of the Pyrenees in just over five-and-a-half hours.

Today's route featured four categorized summits, all massive, all paying tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France in the Pyrenees: the first-category Col du Peyresourde (located at km 11) and Col d'Aspin (km 42.5), followed by the hors-categorie Tourmalet (km 72) and finally, the Col d'Aubisque (km 138). From the summit of the Aubisque, the road descended without stop to the finish line.

It's worth noting that the Tourmalet appeared on today's map as an intermediate point, but this legendary peak - the first ever- and most often-included Pyrenean climb - will provide the finish line for Stage 17 on Thursday, when it will be approached from the opposite direction.

Attacks started early. As far as Contador is concerned, the overview is that his team protected him well in the maillot jaune and he rode without incident in the group of aces with Schleck, Samu, and Menchov.

Schleck's indispensable super-domestique, Jens Voigt, crashed hard in the early kilometers, one year to the day after his nearly fatal crash in Tour 2009.

Contador's group allowed an escape containing no riders of GC significance the liberty to settle the stage finish as a long breakaway.

Lance Armstrong, who started the day in 31st at 40'31" from leader Contador, was in the escape group.

Lance's chances at glory in this Tour had been reduced to a stab at a stage win today. He made it over the mountains and down to Pau with his helper Chris Horner - a veteran on a winning season - as well as Barredo, Casar, Plaza, Cunego, Fedrigo, Van De Walle, and Christophe Moreau.

The Asturian rider Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) provided the fireworks with a solo into Pau, but was caught by the group. Pierrick Fedrigo sparked in the final sprint and got the win. Armstrong came in 6th.


July 19 - Schleck fumbles...c'est la vie, c'est le Tour

Tour de France 2010 Stage 15

Alberto's joy in a fair win is clouded by boos from the crowd (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Alberto Contador earned the maillot jaune today in Stage 15 of the Tour de France in a crucial series of events near the top of the Port de Balès.

Saxo Bank's Andy Schleck, who started the day in yellow, made a techinical error during the heat of battle that caused his chain to jam at about 3 kilometers from the summit.

The popular and brilliant young rider from Luxembourg lost more time by having to do his own butter-fingered repair in the absence of teammates or technical support.

Meanwhile, facing a 21-kilometer descent to the finish line, the race went on.

Demon descender Samuel Sánchez and the winner of both the Giro and Vuelta, Denis Menchov - the two riders placed 3rd and 4th in the GC - surged forward to pursue their options, with the other top rivals not far behind.

Alberto latched on to Samu and landed safely at the finish, gaining 39" on Schleck, which put him fair and square into the leadership.

It was a hard knock for Schleck, but that's life. Knee-jerk reactions by many in the crowd cast a pall on the podium ceremony. Shame.

Alberto now has an 8" advantage. Andy, who says his "stomach is full of anger," will fight again tomorrow.


July 19 - Alberto Contador's statements


July 18 - Alberto and Andy stop, talk and cooperate to fend off hounds

Tour de France 2010 Stage 14

Astana destroyed the Stage 14 peloton, but did it pay off? (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Stage 14, Sunday, July 18: Revel - Ax-3 Domaines, 184 km

Alberto Contador proved to his top rival and race leader that it won’t be so simple to convince him that he’s the one who should take the initiative when it’s not necessary. The psychological warfare between the two riders came to a head on the climb to Ax 3 Domaines, where Alberto said that he’s not willing to do other people’s work. “This position favors me in view of the final time trial,” he said, referring to his position in the general classification.

“We kept an eye on each other, even though the others were ahead of us, but this is only the first stage in the Pyrenees,” said Alberto. “Once we saw that they were getting too far ahead, we made an agreement, because in the end they might’ve been able to get a big gap.”

In reference to the potential danger of riders like Samuel Sanchez and Menchov, he said that “them taking time is always a concern, but it hasn’t been much. On this climb I was riding in the slipstream pretty well and the attacks were fairly predictable. It was hard to shake people off… and maybe I didn’t have my best day,” he said ironically.

“Vino and the whole team have done a magnificent job, but it was a relatively simple climb to do in the slipstream and so the differences are much smaller than on other climbs,” he said about the day’s results, in which the psychological warfare with Andy Schleck was evident.

“Yes, we were arm-wrestling each other until we saw that we were going to have to work together so they didn’t get too far away. The two of us are keeping en eye on each other, but the final time trial can favor me. With respect to Andy, there are other really strong guys, like Menchov and Samuel, who do well against the clock and who could be dangerous for him.” (Official press release, AC press room)

Alberto said that Andy and he are “pretty equal,” and that maybe everything will hinge on the finish on the Tourmalet. “It’s clear that this stage will be very important, but there are still another two left in which a lot of things could happen,” he warned.

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 14, 7th (1:08 Riblon). Contador in the GC, 2nd (0:31 Schleck)

TOP FIVE: 1 Andy Schleck (68:02:30), 2 Alberto Contador (0:31), 3 Samuel Sanchez (2:31), 4 Denis Menchov (2:44), 5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (3:31)



July 18 - Alberto explains while stuck in traffic on the mountain


July 17 - Vino, the hammer, strikes another psychological blow for Astana

Tour de France 2010 Stage 13 Photo: Vinokourov won decisively at Revel (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Stage 13, Saturday, July 17: Rodez - Revel, 195 km

Immediately after crossing the finish line in Stage 13, Alberto Contador headed for Alexander Vinokourov to give him a big hug for winning the stage with a show of force in the final kilometers.

“This victory makes me happier than if I had won myself,” said Contador after congratulating his teammate.

Alberto, who took every possible precaution in the run-in to the finish owing to danger from the wind, did everything that he could to work for Vinokourov from behind.

“I tried whatever I could to hold back the chase group, both on the descent and in the final kilometers and, after what happened to us yesterday, today we had better luck.”

Astana’s team captain on the road had been fighting to get a stage win practically since the race began in Rotterdam and, unlike what happened at the Giro d’Italia—where the quest was unsuccessful—at the Tour, he has managed to climb to the podium’s highest step, and to do it just one day before the beginning of the final fight for the maillot jaune between Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador.

The only sour notes of the day were crashes involving Jesús Hernandez (his fifth) and Dani Navarro, the only member of the team as yet uninvolved in a mishap. (Official press release, AC press room)

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 13, 25th (0:13 Vinokourov). Contador in the GC, 2nd (0:31 Schleck)

TOP THREE:1 Andy Schleck (total time 63:08:40), 2 Alberto Contador (0:31), 3 Samuel Sanchez (2:45)


Mild weather and a fairly quick pace established a feel that Stage 13 would be easily dispatched after a bunch sprint or long escape, and leave the riders free to rest and recuperate in advance of tomorrow’s climb to Ax 3 Domaines. It was, in fact, a high-profile group of three that formed the day’s main break—Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step), Pierrick Fedrigo (Bbox) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky).

Things are never “easily dispatched” in the Tour, however, which Lance Armstrong proved by falling off in the neutral zone and Astana’s Jesús Hernández demonstrated by being spooked by a panicky horse and crashing at about 12 kilometers from the finish line.

To get to the crux of the stage, the escape was caught at the 10-kilometer banner. Alessandro Ballan (BMC) attacked hard at the top of the third-category Côte de Saint-Ferréol. Damiano Cunego (Lampre), Carlos Barredo (Quick Step), Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d’Epargne) and Vino rustled into the mix in his vortex, but it was Vino who attacked again going over the top and dropped the others.

Thomas Voeckler (Bbox) made an attempt to go with him, but Vino was a berserker on a mission that was thrilling to see. Voeckler had to be content to see Vino’s red combativity bib number 9 recede into the distance as the Kazakh seized with a roar of triumph the stage win that had eluded him yesterday at Mende.

Contador arrived with the peloton 13” later, greeting Vino at the finish with a warm embrace and a fist pump to the handlebars.The satisfaction of both riders in the outcome points to good morale and great form for the assault on the fearsome Pyrenees stages, starting tomorrow.

Tour de France 2010 Stage 13

For Alberto and Andy, it's friends, flowers, fun. But not tomorrow. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)


July 16 - Schleck cedes to Contador the 10 seconds he stole at Avoriaz

Tour de France 2010 Stage 12

Fans applaud Alberto up the Croix Neuve at Mende, but Purito is right behind him
(Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Stage 12, Friday, July 16: Bourg-de-Péage - Mende, 210 km

Alberto Contador managed to take 10 seconds from GC leader Andy Schleck at Mende today, the same amount of time that Schleck took from him at Avoriaz, showing weakness in the man from Luxembourg for the first time. “It’s always good to get time differences,” said Alberto after crossing the finish line, “even though it’s better to get more. They still have to take responsibility for the race and need to be the ones to attack.”

At 31 seconds from Schleck in the GC, Alberto said that he can ride “more defensively, thinking about the last time trial. Today was an important day.” Concerning a possible cooperation with Rodriguez, Alberto said that it had been “minimal, because he was going for the stage and I was going for the general. I didn’t let him win either, of course, he did it on his own.”

Looking forward to the Pyrenees, this stage was “quite important, because it means that my legs are responding well and that’s the most important thing.” It also showed the weakness of his most direct rival. “I saw that some rider jumped and that Andy didn’t make a move. He’s the most ambitious rider, so that could be a symptom of weakness. I made an attempt and it went well. It was a shame that I didn’t hang on to fight for the stage win, but taking time is always important, because sometimes you have a good day and other times a bad one.”

In this sense, Alberto believes today’s result strikes a psychological blow going into the Pyrenees. “This is important, even though the time differences were minimal. Besides, Vino did a great job getting into the escape because that way the team avoided working and today has been an incredibly hard day. The speed was always extremely high.” (Official press release, AC press room)


RESULTS: Contador in Stage 12, 2nd (s.t. Joaquim Rodriguez). Contador in the GC, 2nd (0:31 Schleck).

TOP THREE: 1 Andy Schleck (total time 58:42:01), 2 Alberto Contador (0:31), 3 Samuel Sanchez (2:45)


The main escape of the day in Stage 12 didn’t form until the slopes of the second climb, after about an hour of racing. The group of eighteen led the race until the final kilometers at Mende.

Most teams had a presence in the escape, including Astana’s Alexander Vinokourov—who had won at Mende in 1999 in the Gran Prix Midi Libre—another GC rider, Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin, and Thor Hushovd (Cervelo), who was out to reclaim the green points jersey from Alessandro Petacchi.

The group did not include any rider from Schleck’s team, Saxo Bank, who consolidated their power near the front of the main peloton to control the gap.

Hot weather persisted and the pace was very fast. At about 48 kilometers before the goal, Vinokourov made a move that caused a split in the escape group. He moved ahead with Hesjedal, Klöden and Kiryienka, the latter two riders being designated hitters for their teams in the team classification battle.

As Vino rode smoothly in the break, Astana’s Grivko and Noval took charge of Contador in the peloton. The gap edged steadily down, but Vino’s group maintained an advantage as the remnants of the large break—now a chase group—eroded.

Back in the pack, Alberto, with teammates around him, monitored Schleck vigilantly as the final kilometers ticked by and exhaustion wasted the field.

Armstrong was dropped. Klöden was dropped. Petacchi had already ceded the green jersey to Hushovd on the road, and so fought in front for Cunego. World champion Evans sought position for an attempt.

At 3 km to go, Vino attacked Kiryienka. He pushed ahead through the suffering, getting a gap. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) jumped from the pack.

With Andy Schleck on the right side of the pack, Alberto attacked from the left, slightly behind and out of the Luxembourger’s line of vision. Alberto went after Joaquim, but Andy wasn’t able to respond.

The two Spaniards drove away up the slope. It was hard work, but the climb suited them both. They briefly joined forces with Vino, however, the Kazakh was too spent to collaborate.

Into a headwind, the Spaniards fought. Contador spoke to Rodriguez as the sprint began, but the advantage in the end went to the man from Barcelona. Rodriguez won the day, while Contador took 10 seconds on Schleck.

Vino crossed the line four seconds later, obviously unhappy that neither he nor Alberto had been able to get a stage win for Astana. He commented after the stage, “It is a little disappointing not to win the stage but again it was a good gain in the general classification. We certainly would have liked to win the stage with either Alberto or myself but the circumstances didn’t allow that. There are still plenty of stages to come and I have complete confidence in Alberto.”


July 15 - Saxo puts the screws to the peloton, no problem for Alberto

Tour de France 2010 Stage 11

The miles are starting to add up (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Stage 11, Thursday, July 15: Sisteron - Bourg-lès-Valence, 180 km

Alberto Contador successfully managed the final tricky kilometers of today’s stage, where shifting winds increased the risk of splits and crashes among the favorites. “It seemed like a fairly calm day on paper, but it was windy at the end and, even though nothing happened, the tension was there,” said the leader of Astana.

Two days of relative peace and quiet will end tomorrow with the finish at Mende, a legendary stage in the Tour de France and a point of conquest for Contador in Paris-Nice. “It’s a stage that I like. But what I’m thinking about now is the GC. We’ll have to look at whatever moves there are and act accordingly.”

One thing’s for sure: there will be a big difference in conditions from his win at Paris-Nice, in temperatures at few degrees above zero, to the month of July, with forecasts of around 30° C. “They’re not alike at all. The climb will be totally different, due to the days of exhaustion that we’re carrying in this Tour, among other reasons,” said Alberto. “First we’ll have to see how we feel and then what we can do.”

What he doesn’t want to comment about is whether tomorrow will be the next chapter in the duel between Contador and Schleck. “Could be,” he said simply. (Official press release, AC press room)


RESULTS: Contador in Stage 11, 40th (s.t. Cavendish). Contador in the GC, 2nd (0:41 Schleck)

TOP THREE: 1 Andy Schleck (total time 53:43:25), 2 Alberto Contador (0:41), 3 Samuel Sanchez (2:45)


After the fourth-category Col de Cabre at kilometer 56.5, today’s sunny transitional stage was nearly all one long gentle slope to Bourg-lès-Valence. Three riders broke away immediately after the waving of the start flag: Jose Alberto Benitez (Footon-Servetto), Stephane Auge (Cofidis) and Anthony Geslin (Française des Jeux).

The secondary events of the day played out while the peloton controlled the gap. Alberto continued to be protected by his team, interacting with the camera with a big smile and a fist pump for the camera man. Vinokourov, too, was relaxed and charming in front of the camera.

Saxo Bank, riding in front for Schleck in the maillot jaune, increased the pace dramatically in the last 20 kilometers, helped by Rabobank on behalf of Menchov and Gesink. The Astana climbers fell back to a safe place behind the peloton as Vino took Alberto forward on the heels of Saxo while the peloton stretched backwards in a long sinuous line.

Cancellara, Voigt and others whipped the pace furiously. HTC-Columbia’s leadout train for Cavendish was broken up by the hard riding and the other sprinters’ teams were forced to hang on desperately as the powerful men drove for the GC.

At about 6 kilometers before the finish line Saxo relented. The peloton reassembled as a dense pack under the influence of Lampre for Petacchi, Milram for Ciolek and Sky for Boasson Hagen. HTC-Columbia laid in wait.

Rounding a double curve, then onto the finishing straight, the leadout men jostled for places. Mark Renshaw head-butted Julian Dean in an act of over-the-top argy-bargy, effectively beating him back and creating a channel through which Mark Cavendish got scent of the line. Next, the inevitable: another sprint win for the Manxman, career number 13 in the Tour de France. Renshaw was expelled from the Tour for the reckless aggression that facilitated Cav’s win.


July 14 - A long escape to victory for an ex-teammate, top GC same

Tour de France 2010 Stage 10

Contador focuses intensely, riding surrounded by his teammates (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Stage 10, Wednesday, July 14: Chambéry - Gap, 179 km

Alberto Contador got safely to the finish line today in Stage 10 of the Tour de France, arriving with the pack and retaining his 2nd place in the overall standings.

Large crowds of fans on holiday for Bastille Day braved the heatwave for a chance to encourage the riders as the Tour said goodbye to the Alps for 2010.

Sunshine and temperatures in the upper 90's F heated the asphalt to the melting point. Talk inevitably turned to the 2003 Tour, when the melted road surface caused Joseba Beloki's disastrous crash along this route. The media have played and replayed video of the incident, perhaps not a very sensitive move considering the cycling world knows well what happened that day and was already finding it difficult to put out of mind.

The day's four stage hunters escaped early: Sergio Paulinho (who has ridden on teams with Contador for years), Mario Aerts, Dries Devenyns, and Vasili Kiryienka - none of them French, unusual on Bastille Day. To set the situation right, Maxime Bouet and Pierre Rolland soon joined.

As the six men widened the gap, Contador rode surrounded by his teammates in the pack, which was controlled by Saxo Bank for race leader Andy Schleck. In spite of the curse of Beloki, all went well at an easy tempo that allowed a safe arrival.

The peloton never came near the escape group. Paulinho attacked and beat Kiryienka to the line in a photo finish, and the pack followed 14'19" later, seeing the top ten placings in the GC all home and dry.


RESULTS: Contador in Stage 10, 25th (14:19 Paulinho). Contador in the GC, 2nd (0:41 Schleck)

TOP THREE: 1 Andy Schleck (total time 49:00:56), 2 Alberto Contador (0:41), 3 Samuel Sanchez (2:45)



July 13 - Alberto and Andy star in Stage 9 thriller on the Madeleine

Tour de France 2010 Stage 9

Alberto and Andy Schleck agree to work together to decimate their rivals (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Alberto Contador crossed the finish line today after executing a great tactical maneuver with Andy Schleck that left the riders in the top two positions in the general classification. The final and most difficult stage in the Alps proved that Contador and Schleck are the strongest riders in the peloton at this edition of the Tour de France. “The time differences have been larger than I expected,” said Alberto in summary.

Yet again today, Contador thanked his teammates for a great performance. “The team has done an extraordinary job. Dani (Navarro) and Paolo (Tiralongo) were brilliant in the mountains. I decided to follow Andy, who made several attempts, and in the end he decided to work with me. I cooperated with him, too, and I think that we both came out winners.”

Alberto was clear about today’s tactics. “We had to combine forces in order to distance the others, as circumstances dictated. Now we’ll have to be constantly vigilant of each other, but I’m very happy with the results and with the way I felt—I felt really good.”

About Schleck’s attacks at first, Contador said that for him it’s much better now than at Avoriaz “because the tactics are different. It’s much simpler to focus on only one rider. Besides, I’m happy because my body recuperates well and the team is also doing well,” he replied.

Contador denied, nevertheless, that the Tour has been reduced to a duel. “No, there are still a lot of riders who could sneak by in an escape and there are a lot of stages left for attacking from a distance. I can’t let myself get distracted, but just as I said yesterday, the most dangerous one is Andy Schleck.”

About the stage played out by him and Schleck on the Madeleine, he said that it had been “a nice stage, the Madeleine was very hard and a lot of people ceded time. Once more it proves that, for a lot of people, the rest day can come back to bite you.” And about his response to Andy’s attacks, he only said that he is clear about his goal. “I know that the wheel to follow is Andy Schleck’s.”

Finally, Alberto acknowledged that today’s caper resulted in a nice strike on the GC. “Without doubt, he said. “I was able to distance many of the guys in the general. Andy remains the most dangerous, but it’s always better to be ahead of anybody than behind them.” (Official press release, AC press room)


RESULTS: Contador in Stage 9, 7th (0:02 Sandy Casar). Contador in the GC, 2nd (0:41 Andy Schleck).

TOP THREE: 1 Andy Schleck (total time 43:35:41), 2 Alberto Contador (0:41), 3 Samuel Sánchez (2:45)



July 11 - Astana domestiques, superb and powerful, make joke out of question "Is his team strong enough?"

Tour de France 2010 Stage 6

Contador's team was the envy of the peloton (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images)

“Navarro was incredible on the final climb”

“It was another day when heat was a factor,” said Alberto Contador at the finish line, explaining Astana’s tactics. “We took responsibility because we saw that Lance was behind and the rest of the rivals were on the limit.”

Alberto was very happy with his teammates’ work and, especially, with Dani Navarro. “On the final climb he did an extraordinary job, because everybody was on the limit. Maybe we were at the front in the headwind a bit too long. When they started to hit the gas, I was able to go counter well, but later Andy Schleck attacked from right behind me, I made an attempt and seeing that he got a few meters, I chose to sit back and wait for the people who were coming from behind. In the end, a few seconds got nibbled away, but the results are good, although I had the impression that I was having a little trouble breathing in this heat. Now we’ll take a break and Tuesday we’ll fight again.”

Contador repeated his praise for the team. “Chapeau to all of them, they’ve done an extraordinary job even though we’ve all crashed at some point. What Navarro has done is amazing,” he said.

About Lance Armstrong, he said that he had lost a significant amount of time. “I’ve still got to see the classification, but yes, it seems that it was a lot of minutes, although there are still more than enough stages for attacking from a distance,” he said.

Alberto said that Andy Schleck had become his most dangerous rival. “He was very good. Last year he put me in difficulties and this year he’ll be the one who gives me the most trouble in the mountains.” He also offered congratulations to Samuel Sánchez. “I’m very happy that he was in front. We’re really good friends. I’m delighted for him, because it seems that things are going well now.”

Finally, Alberto did a first analysis of the stage. “It was so hard and there were so many time differences due to the heat. It was 35 or 40 degree and very humid. Where I live in Madrid it also gets extremely hot, but it’s totally different, here you could drink 10 to 12 liters of water in a day.” And then, in signing off, he showed his support for the Spanish national football team. “Now I’m going to park myself in front of the television like a La Roja super fan.” (Official press release, AC press room)


RESULTS: Contador in Stage 8, 5th (0:10 Schleck). Contador in the GC, 3rd (1:01 Cadel Evans).

TOP THREE: 1 Cadel Evans, 2 Andy Schleck, 3 Alberto Contador


July 10 - Aces focus on survival, and live to fight tomorrow

Tour de France 2010 Stage 6

Contador: "It was a draining day for tomorrow at Avoriaz" (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Stage 7, Saturday, July 10: Tournus - Station des Rousses, 161 km

Alberto Contador, leader of the Astana team, underscored “the heat and rigor” that the peloton endured in Stage 7 of the Tour de France, during which the leaders devoted themselves mainly to “getting an idea of how they felt” on a day that was free from aggressive moves among the aces.

“It’s been a very tough day, it was really hot and I had to drink many liters of water. A draining day for tomorrow at Avoriaz,” said the two-time winner of the Tour de France.

There were no attacks among the leaders of the teams in the fight for the general, something Astana’s boss sees as normal.

“No, there was no battle among the leaders, things were calm, maybe everybody was just trying to get an idea of how they felt on this first encounter with the mountains,” he explained.

Contador emphasized the “great job” done by his teammates, the Astana riders who controlled the head of the pack in various phases of the race, like on the final ascent to the Station des Rousses. (EFE)

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 7, 13th (1:47 Sylvain Chavanel). Contador in the GC, 6th (2:26 Chavanel)

TOP TEN: 1 Chavanel (33:01:23), 2 Evans (1:25), 3 Hesjedal (1:32), 4 Schleck (1:55), 5 Vinokourov (2:17), 6 Contador (2:26), 7 Van Den Broek (2:28), 8 Roche (2:28), 9 Van Summeren (2:33), 10 Menchov (2:35)yl



July 9 - Alberto calls Noval and Grivko to front, sends climbers to grupetto

Tour de France 2010 Stage 6

Contador has Tiralonga (left) and Vinokourov (right) with him in the thick of things in Stage 6 (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images)

Alberto Contador finished today’s stage without problems, one day before reaching the mountains, which begin tomorrow with the first stage in the Alps. According to Alberto, today was “a boring day for the people at home, and also for us. Between the neutralized zone and stage, there were about 240 kilometers and we were half asleep sometimes.”

The finish, as always, was more hectic and dangerous, where even the men from Astana rode in front for the last 10 kilometers, to avoid problems. “We saw the activity that there was in the peloton and I told Benjamín and Grivko, and we went to the front, but there wasn’t enough wind to be able to do anything. We put ourselves in front to avoid any sudden scare.”

Alberto also confirmed that the discomfort he has felt in the aftermath of Monday’s crash is much improved. “I’ve improved a lot and I’m very happy with feeling this way. Today when I got up, my legs felt much better and that’s important, because the hard part starts tomorrow and I need to be one hundred percent.”

Before the start of the mountain stages, Alberto doesn’t want to give anything away. “I don’t know how I am,” he says. “Tomorrow we can draw some conclusions, but even more on the Morzine day, with the climb of La Ramaz before it, which is hard. Anyway, I hope that my strength responds tomorrow.”

Contador also explained the tactics employed in the last few days, which saw the team’s climbers riding in the autobus in each stage. “They go in front at the beginning of the stage to spare the rouleurs, who are the ones who have to be there at the end, when it’s going 60 km/h. Then the climbers can ride in the grupetto in the final kilometers in order to avoid crashes and overexertion. This makes it possible for them to ride piano, because they know that they’ll go to work in earnest tomorrow and especially in the final week. The fresher they are, the better.” (Official press release, AC press room)

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 6, 28th (s.t. Mark Cavendish). Contador in the GC: 9th (1:40 Cancellar).

TOP TEN: 1 Cancellara (18:28:55), 2 Thomas (0:23), 3 Evans (0:39), 4 Hesjedal (0:46), 5 Chavanel (1:01), 6 Andy Schleck (1:09), 7 Hushovd (1:19), 8 Vinokourov (1:31), 9 Contador (1:40), 10 Van Den Broek (1:42)



July 8 - "The most important thing in the Tour is to go day by day"

Tour de France 2010 Stage 5

Streamlined Contador on the way to Montargis (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images)

Stage 5, Thursday, July 8: Épernay - Montargis, 185 km

Alberto Contador got through today’s stage without problems and is already one day closer to his turf—the mountains—which will appear this weekend. The stage was “quite good” for Astana’s leader, “calm, and we were a bit wary only at the end due to risks posed by the wind, but nothing happened, we finished without mishaps: one day less.”

Alberto says that it’s still too early to say anything about his rivals, because they haven’t been in the right place to analyze each one. “During these days you can’t draw many conclusions. The majority of the favorites are riding in a good position in the pack, they’re not overlooking the slightest thing, but it’s still impossible to know who’s good.”

The mountains draw nearer every day and he’s already started thinking about them, but not too much. “Of course you think about the mountains, but the most important thing in the Tour is to go day by day, because when you’re thinking about riding piano, you can lose loads of time. I have to go day by day and think ahead to arriving on my own turf.

After two days on cobblestones, Alberto feels better muscularly, although he still has some discomfort, mainly owing to the crash last Monday. “The problem wasn’t the pavé, it was the crash on the day before. At the level of tendons and muscles, it did some damage and I still have pain, but I’m confident that little by little it’ll go away.”

Finally, about the last two days of heat, Alberto commented that he always “likes for it to be sunny, but we were really hot today and, personally, I’d rather have it be 10 degrees cooler. Twenty-five degrees would be fine. (Official press release, AC press room)

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 5, 19th (s.t. Cavendish). Contador in the GC, 9th (1:40)

TOP TEN: 1 Cancellara (18:28:55), 2 Thomas (0:23), 3 Evans (0:39), 4 Hesjedal (0:46), 5 Chavanel (1:01), 6 Andy Schleck (1:09), 7 Hushovd (1:19), 8 Vinokourov (1:31), 9 Contador (1:40), 10 Van Den Broek (1:42)


Stage 5 was sunny and hot, piano and, like yesterday and like tomorrow, mostly flat. The two category-4 climbs came early in the stage, leaving about 150 kilometers for Contador and the other favorites to ride as gently as possible and recuperate from the cobblestones.

The escape of the day was established at kilometer 6, a three-man group made up of Spanish champion José Ivan Gutiérrez (Caisse d’Epargne), Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step) and Julien El Farès (Cofidis).

Gutiérrez, dressed in his red and yellow champion's kit, spent much of the day in front of the camera as a show of national pride for Spain qualifying for the final round of the World Cup yesterday. He enhanced the effect by attacking at 6 kilometers before the finish, but was soon absorbed as the sprinters' teams came into position for the final play.

Mark Cavendish won the sprint, his eleventh career win at the Tour. After an early season of ill health, bad luck and controversial moves at the finish line, the Manx rider wept openly on the podium.

Alberto finished in the same time as Cavendish, in 19th place. His mountain gregarios - Tiralongo, De la Fuente, Navarro and Hernández rode in with the broomwagon after riding conservatively, saving strength for the Alps, starting Saturday.

Most of the talk about Contador today was not racing analysis, but rather idle chatter about his visit to Armstrong's team bus to deliver watches as gifts to Armstrong and Bruyneel in thanks for the role they played in Tour 2009. That and the other trivial topic du jour - an unflattering photograph of the two riders in Stage 4 - have wormed their way into Tour 2010 lore.

This suggests that if Contador and Armstrong aren't kept busy providing blood-and-guts entertainment in severe conditions, the IQ-level of the cycling community will plummet into the mud, from which new "controversies" will hatch out. Come quickly, Alps.


July 8 - Contador will stay with Astana “two or three more years”

before Tour de France 2010

Photo by AC press room

MARCA - Alberto Contador has already decided his future. He will stay with Astana, save some last-minute surprise. His brother and representative, Fran Contador, has confirmed the situation in an interview for Biciciclismo in which he says that only “some nuances” are lacking before closing on a contract that will tie the Pinteño to the Kazakh team for the next “two or three years.”

“We’ve already had a meeting with the sponsors, we only have to come to an agreement about some nuances and I think that there won’t be major problems. The duration of the contract isn’t definite, although it will be a minimum of two years, it’s something that we have to discuss but it will be two or three years,” he said.

Alberto is very happy with the effort made by the Kazakh directors to round up a team confident of success for this Tour after going through the dismantling of his team following the departure of Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong to form a new team, RadioShack.

Furthermore, he is in perfect sync with the squad’s directors, Yvon Sanquer and Giuseppe Martinelli. Not in vain, they have taken care of his requests whenever they could, like the hiring of Óscar Pereiro as super-domestique, even though in the end he wasn’t included among the nine cyclists that they took to the startline of the Tour in Rotterdam.

Contador’s brother expects that the agreement will be resolved as soon as possible so that he can focus on this season’s goals, among whch could be the Vuelta a España. “We don’t have a specific date marked on the calendar. As soon as we’re square about things, it will be fully closed. During the Tour or when the Tour finishes, but as soon as possible,” he underscored.

Contador’s intention to stay with the Kazakh team caused other options which have been the talk in the last few months to evaporate, like the creation of a team by Fernando Alonso in which the Madrileño would be the biggest star. Non-Spanish teams like Quick Step were also interested in his services, but it seems that Contador does not want to take on a new venture blindly.

“The sponsors are very interested in staying with this project and in making the best team around Alberto. It is his wish. This year, in spite of all the disadvantages and being behind schedule, they’ve taken a good team forward and it can get better,” said Contador’s brother and representative, who is now entrusted with closing the contract deal according to the financial requirements of the two-time Tour-winner.


July 7 - It's only a transitional stage, but everyone is watching Alberto

Tour de France 2010 Stage 3

Contador and team recuperate during a transtitional Stage 4 (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images)

Stage 4 - Wednesday, July 7: Cambrai - Reims, 153.5 km

Alberto Contador spent a more peaceful day today than is usual at the Tour. The stage was shorter, and the wind—perhaps the only likely danger—was calm. “If the wind had come up it would’ve been a completely different day, but we were lucky,” said Alberto. “Nevertheless, we were always near the front because we knew that there were teams that would try to attack at any change of direction, like RadioShack.” (AUDIO)

The last few kilometers of the stage were the worst, as is usually the case with sprint finishes. “At the end there was great danger of crashing, especially in the last five kilometers, where there were nine roundabouts. You had to keep position because if there’s a split, you lose time, but you also know that if you get caught up in a crash due to being in a good position, sometimes that’s almost worse,” explained Contador.

“Often you don’t know where to put yourself, but today, at least, we recovered our strength in the first part of the stage. Things are going better and I’m already thinking little by little about the weekend,” he said in reference to the arrival of the Alps.

Contador wasn’t surprised to see RadioShack riding on the front all day. “It’s a team which always really makes itself known in races and which is always in front. Today especially, but my team is really sticking together because we know that these days are even more important for us than the ones in the mountains. We’re watching out for any threat of echelons in order to be there.”

Tomorrow the situation could repeat itself, but everything “will depend on how windy it is. If it’s windy, it’ll be very dangerous, but I hope that it’ll be a day like today.”

Alberto, who didn’t want to let slip the chance to encourage the Spanish football team, said, “I hope that they fight with everything they’ve got to try to win. The other day Germany was amazing, but Spain is more than good enough to beat them. I won’t miss the match at my hotel.”


RESULTS: Contador in Stage 4, 32nd (s.t. Alessandro Petacchi). Contador in the GC, 9th (1:40 Cancellara)

TOP TEN: 1 Cancellara (18:28:55), 2 Thomas (0:23), 3 Evans (0:39), 4 Hesjedal (0:46), 5 Chavanel (1:01), 6 Andy Schleck (1:09), 7 Hushovd (1:19), 8 Vinokourov (1:31), 9 Contador (1:40), 10 Van Den Broek (1:42)


July 6 - Contador refuses to allow faulty brakes to ruin his Tour

Tour de France 2010 Stage 3

Contador's survival training with Peter Van Petegem paid off in TDF Stage 3 (Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)

“I was extremely comfortable on the pavé”

Alberto Contador got a great result today in the pavé stage, where only Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans managed to take time on him due to a breakdown of the rear wheel, among other things. The malfunction caused him to ride the final 30 kilometers with the rear brake rubbing, which interfered with his ability to keep pace with his group in the final kilometer. In spite of everything, Alberto said that his result was “something to be happy about,” referring to the advantage that he gained over the rest of the leaders.

The mechanical problem was the first thing he mentioned after crossing the finish line. “I rode the final 30 kilometers with the rear brake rubbing the whole time, so considering that, and that I got caught up in a crash, the result is not that bad.”

About Armstrong’s result, he didn’t want to comment before taking a close look at the classification and knowing what the time differences were, but he said that it wasn’t a question of “looking at how various people did, but of getting an advantage on the rivals. The team was extraordinary as well, and Vino, impressive.”

Alberto explained that, in spite of knowing that there was something wrong with the wheel, he chose to continue rather than stop to change it. “I knew that if I changed bikes it was going to be much worse so I chose to stay with the rubbing wheel. I wasn’t able to get out of the saddle, but well, we’ve gotten through the day.”

About the time differences gotten today he said that they weren’t “anything to write home about and, to tell the truth, I didn’t know who was riding up ahead and who was behind. The differences still aren’t insurmountable.”

Contador summarized his physical feelings today by saying that at the beginning of the stage “I felt pretty bad. I changed bikes at kilometer 100 and then I felt worse, but after the change I started feeling better and then with all the tension on the pavé, I felt very, very comfortable, extremely comfortable. With the breakdown, I knew that I couldn’t let up, couldn’t get out of the saddle and I knew that I was expending more energy than normal, but I wasn’t able to stop.” For that reason he lost time in the final kilometer. “That was all I could do,” he said.

The rest of the Astana riders managed to finish the stage without problems, except for Benjamín Noval, who was also involved in the crash with Frank Schleck. The Asturian su sustained a heavy blow to the right thumb, as well as bruises to the back, and to the right leg and arm. His overall condition is good, however, and he will be able to continue in the race as normal. (Official press release, AC press room)

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 3, 13th (1:13 Thor Hushovd). Contador in GC, 9th (1:40 Fabian Cancellara)

TOP TEN: 1 Cancellara (14:54:00), 2 Thomas (0:23), 3 Evans (0:39), 4 Hesjedal (0:46), 5 Chavanel (1:01), 6 Andy Schleck (1:09), 7 Hushovd (1:19), 8 Vinokourov (1:31), 9 Contador (1:40), 10 Van Den Broek (1:42)


Alberto Contador defied the croakings of doom and put in an impressive ride over the cobblestones of Belgium and northern France today in Stage 3 of the Tour de France, gaining time on most of the GC favorites despite fighting a broken rear brake during the final 30 kilometers.

Today had been seen as the day that Contador would suffer and that more experienced riders with seasoned teams—most notably Saxo Bank and especially Armstrong and his new organization—would gain time that could put the Tour out of his reach.

Contador’s defense was preparation. True to form, he began preparing for this day months ago.

Meticulousness is a champion formula for him, and today he gave a champion exhibition that was based on in situ tutorials with Peter Van Petegem and his own crack squad last spring, using the Specialized Roubaix model bike.

In race action, crashes and mechanicals frequently disrupted the flow, putting the peloton in tatters in the last 50 kilometers.

Contador had a nervous moment at 29.7 kilometers from the finish, when he was forced to hop onto the sidewalk and back to the street on a crowded curve. It was about then that he experienced a mechanical that caused the rear brake to grip the tire for the rest of the stage.

Two kilometers later, Frank Schleck crashed heavily. Yesterday, when the Schleck brothers crashed together, their captain Saxo Bank captain Cancellara held the tempo to bring them back. But today Frank was a goner, so Spartacus pushed ahead to gain time for Andy Schleck—Alberto’s main rival for the 2010 title.

Andy was carried forward on the shoulders of Cancellara, Jens Voigt and Stuart O’Grady. Alberto, behind them and struggling against his own malfunctioning brake, rode with fire, eliciting a flurry of praise from commentators. He had teammates, too, namely Vinokourov, but no other team could match Saxo’s titanic effort.

Armstrong faltered, then punctured. He had only Popovych to bring him back—not enough manpower to save the aging American on the brutal route.

Yellow jersey Sylvain Chavanel, among others, was also crippled by mechanicals.

Alberto bridged up to a group containing Vino as the finish neared. Cancellara was flying Andy Schleck to the goal, accompanied by Cadel Evans, Thor Hushovd and a few others. Hushovd won the stage in a sprint.

Alberto slipped off the back of the Vino group in the last kilometer, victimized by his own bike. The performance was stunning on any terms, however, and much more so for having been done with the rear brake on.

The net gain for Andy Schleck was half a minute over Contador, but as one commentator put it, “The loss of Frank Schleck is bigger for Andy than the gain of 31 seconds over Alberto, and will matter more later in the race.”


July 5 - On a day of disastrous crashes, Alberto orders the team to wait for Andy

Tour de France 2010 Stage 2

Alberto munches on a stroopwaffle during a comfortless Stage 2. A weaker person might sacrifice the title for a cup of coffee to go with it. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Alberto Contador was one of many riders to crash on the descent of the Col de Stockeu today, on a section of road that had been turned into a skating rink by rain and, it seems, by a fuel leak from a motorcycle that had crashed minutes before the riders came through. “It was complete insanity,” said Contador after leaving antidoping control, a step that had to be completed before beginning to recover from his injuries.

Alberto wasn’t the only Astana rider to fall—only Benjamín Noval and Dani Navarro managed to stay upright. Alexander Vinokourov crashed just behind Contador but without significant injury, while Tiralongo, as he explained, hit his left knee on Armstrong’s bicycle, the American having also been involved in the accident.

Tour de France 2010 Stage 2 Contador suffered bruises and abrasions to the right hip, knee and elbow, but the first impression of the team doctors was that he will be able to take the start tomorrow without further complications. “We’re going to be optimistic and think that we’ve been able to get back up after the crash,” said Alberto.

“Due to the road conditions, it was impossible not to crash. I crashed on a straight section at 60 km/h and when I was thinking about what had just happened to me, I saw that there were people on the ground everywhere I looked. It was impossible to stop without crashing,” Contador continued to explain.

The worst thing for him is thinking that tomorrow is the pavé stage, an especially tough day’s work in any case, and more so after today. “It’s the worst day, because tomorrow is a very tough day with pavé, which bangs up your whole body, but I want to be optimistic. We’re going to try to recuperate and apply ice as soon as possible.”

Alberto confirmed that he was among the riders who decided to stop to wait for Andy Schleck, one of the riders who crashed hardest. “As soon as I knew that Andy was behind, I ordered all my teammates to stop immediately. Just as I would like him to do for me, I believe that I had to do it for him.”

In spite of this, there was briefly some reservation and disagreement, “with some teams that wanted to press on in spite of everything, because there were a lot of dangerous people up ahead, but, well, in the end they did the logical thing and decided to stop in front as well.” (Official press release, AC press room)

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 2, 81st (3:56 Sylvain Chavanel). Contador in the GC, 7th (3:24 Chavanel).

TOP TEN: 1 Chavanel (10:01:25), 2 Cancellara (2:57), 3 Martin (3:07), 4 Millar (3:17), 5 Armstrong (3:19), 6 Thomas (3:20), 7 Contador (3:24), 8 Leipheimer (3:25), 9 Boasson Hagen (3:29), 10 Gerdemann (3:32)


Photo (right) by Alberto Contador at Twitter


July 4 - Kilometers, bikes and bodies pile up in long slog to Brussels

Tour de France 2010 Stage 1

Contador sparkling before Stage 1 (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Stage 1 - Sunday, July 4: Rotterdam - Brussels, 223.4km

Alberto Contador got through the first road stage of the 2010 Tour without any problems to speak of, except for a small bruise to the left knee suffered after the penultimate crash of the day when he didn’t have time to brake. “Nothing that can’t be cured with a little ice,” he said about the bruise. (AUDIO)

“There were several crashes at the end of the stage, and in the one that Fabian Cancellara was in, I was just behind him and it didn’t give me time to brake. I hit the ones that had already crashed, but all things considered, I’m happy. I’ve got a nice bruise on my left leg, but nothing serious,” explained the Astana leader.

Contador himself did not crash, but was brought to a halt, he said, “by the bikes of the people in front of me, not the brakes. Today hasn’t been that dangerous a day, but we’re in the best race in the world and winning a stage here is something that very few can do. Everybody goes at full throttle and in the end, these things happen.”

Tomorrow’s stage will cover some of the Liège route, something that Alberto prefers to the one today. “Yes, I prefer it to today’s stage, although I’m very, very happy with how the day has turned out. It was an especially difficult stage due to the wind, which threatened to cause splits, but the team has been super-motivated and super-focused in front, which allowed me to ride in relative calm and save strength. We’ve managed to get through the day without problems.”

When the crash happened, Alberto admitted that it was a bit scary. “Absolutely, because I saw that there was no stopping, there were so many bicycles that in the end you just run into them.”

The large crowds of people were one of the biggest hazards of the day. The crash that caught up Basso and Millar, for example, was caused in part by a dog, but also by fans seated in and otherwise occupying part of the road. When the peloton approached, the fans quickly abandoned their places, leaving chairs and other furniture in the way. David de la Fuente received a good bruise on the right arm from a spectator that intruded into his path on the road. Luckily, the incident had no serious consequences. (Official press release, AC press room)

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 1, 48th (s.t. Alesssandro Petacchi). Contador in the GC, 6th (0:27 Cancellara).

TOP TEN: 1 Fabian Cancellara (total time 10:00:44), 2 Tony Martin (0:10), 3 David Millar (0:20), 4 Lance Armstrong (0:22), 5 Geraint Thomas (0:23), 6 Alberto Contador (0:27, 7 Tyler Farrar (0:28), 8 Levi Leipheimer (0:28), 9 Edvald Boasson Hagen (0:32), 10 Linus Gerdemann (0:35)


Alberto Contador was caught up in a massive crash at 700 meters before the finish line today in the first stage of the Tour, sustaining a bruise to the left knee which he hoped would “not have consequences.”

The final 3-kilometer rule was in effect when the accident took place and brought the majority of the peloton to a standstill. All riders were therefore awarded the same time as stage winner Alessandro Petacchi.

Riders braved wind off the North Sea in the 223.5-kilometer pancake-flat stage from Rotterdam to Brussels. Contador and his team, Astana, passed the day without incident in the peloton, keeping pace behind a controlled escape of three men that was finally absorbed at 8.5 kilometers from the finish.

A series of crashes began on a right turn leading into the final straight. A handful of riders went down, disrupting the final sprint and taking Óscar Freire and Mark Cavendish, among others, out of the race for the line.

A couple of hundred meters later came the massive pile-up. A few lucky ones were in front of the incident, but the rest of the peloton came to a complete stop as riders extricated themselves from the huge knot of bikes and bodies on the asphalt.

Meanwhile the sprint continued forward. As riders angled to the left across the road another crash occurred. The result was a clear win by Alessandro Petacchi, followed by Mark Renshaw and Thor Hushovd.

Contador commented only briefly immediately at the finish line: “It didn’t give me time to brake in order to avoid the crash and I took a blow to the knee. I hope that it’s not important, that it’s not serious.”

He later thanked his team via Twitter, and commented, “Managed to get through the stage, small bruise on my leg due to the crash, but happy because it was a dangerous day due to the wind.”


July 3 - Past is prologue as Cancellara wins, Contador well-placed

Tour de France 2010 Prologue

Eye candy by Giro helmets (Photo by AC press room)

Prologue - Saturday, July 3: Rotterdam - Rotterdam, 8.9 km

Contador: "I'm happy with the result"


Alberto Contador got started in the Tour de France today with a sixth-place finish that gained him his first seconds over the majority of the GC candidates. Astana’s leader finished satisfied with the first time trial of Tour 2010. “I’m happy with the result,” he said.

After a first analysis of the classification, Alberto said that he had been “ahead of practically all of the favorites, and I was able to scrape together some seconds. It’s true that I never hit the rhythm that I like, but I’m happy with the prologue.”

With respect to the time differences that he got, he preferred waiting for a more deliberate analysis, although he did say that “for such a short distance, there were people that lost a lot of time,” in reference to the results of some of his direct rivals.

About the route, he said that it was “very difficult because I couldn’t risk more than was worthwhile. It’s better to lose a few seconds than risk a crash.”

And finally, Contador wasn’t bothered by Armstrong’s margin. “These results don’t change the race at all. The differences were minimal and there’s no need to worry about it,” he concluded.

Contador was also able to give a good report of the performance of his newly-improved equipment today, after a first trial in competition of, in particular, his new helmet by Giro and new Specialized time trial bike with the latest improvements to the handlebars. (Official press release, AC press room)

RESULTS: Contador in the prologue, 6th (0:27 Cancellara). Contador in the GC, 6th (0:27 Cancellara).

TOP TEN: 1 Fabian Cancellara (total time 10:00:44), 2 Tony Martin (0:10), 3 David Millar (0:20), 4 Lance Armstrong (0:22), 5 Geraint Thomas (0:23), 6 Alberto Contador (0:27, 7 Tyler Farrar (0:28), 8 Levi Leipheimer (0:28), 9 Edvald Boasson Hagen (0:32), 10 Linus Gerdemann (0:35)


July 1 - Alberto in a whirl of activity as final hours to TDF start tick by

Counting down to Tour de France 2010

Contador faces the media pleasantly (Photo by AC press room)

Today, Thursday, the Astana team did a three-hour training session on the outskirts of Rotterdam. They did not, however, do reconnaissance of the route of the first road stage, which they planned to cover by car during the afternoon.


Alberto Contador and Alexander Vinokourov took the opportunity in training to test the time trial bicycles that they’ll ride on Saturday. Contador will take the start of the Tour with a new frame—still unfinished and unpainted—after spending time adjusting measurements on a first model in Madrid.

Today’s work will be rounded out by the official presentation of teams this evening, an event that normally happens on the eve of the race, but which has been moved forward this year to avoid a clash with the first game of the World Cup quarterfinals tomorrow.

Contador will hold a press conference on Friday at 3:00 in the afternoon at the Astana team hotel. (Official press release, AC press room)

Counting down to Tour de France 2010

A great effort has been made by Specialized to provide the right TT bike for Contador. This latest model is built around a new frame. (Photo by AC press room)


July 1 - Contador and Tour de France squad are introduced to the public

photo by Tim de Waele


July 1 - Contador's level is beyond anything the gregario has ever seen

David de la Fuente was already in Rotterdam on Tuesday evening, after a long and hot day of travel—suitcases, airports, kilometers by bus and car.

The Astana rider will be one of three Cantabrians at the Tour de France, along with Óscar Freire and Iván Gutiérrez, who will become part of the 198-man best peloton in the world when they begin another journey on Saturday: a three-week excursion by bicycle from Holland to Paris by way of the Alps and Pyrenées.

The three Spaniards will have very different goals. Freire will look for bunch-sprint stage wins, while Gutiérrez will premeire the new Spanish champion’s jersey and have options due to the absence of a clear leader at Caisse d’Epargne. De la Fuente wants to help Contador conquer his third Tour de France.

David de la Fuente: “My only objective is to help Contador win his third Tour”

EL DIARIO MONTANES - David de la Fuente is on the team to beat this year at the Tour—Astana—and he’s fully aware of what that entails. “We have Contador and that’s a responsibility for us. Everyone is going to be watching Alberto, and his rivals are going to try to keep him from winning, but we, and Alberto himself, are here to avoid that. We’re really focused and very well-prepared mentally, and between us we intend that Alberto takes another Tour,” says the rider who was Most Combative in the 2006 Tour de France. The Cantabrian rider put his mark on the Tour that year with long solo escapes and leadership in the mountains classification.

His current form is good, as he demonstrated in the Dauphiné recently, “but we’ll see how I am when we hit the gas.” His allergies are hardly worth mentioning. “Man, I’m drowning a bit, but that’s comes with the territory, becuse for me it’s almost normal,” explains De la Fuente.

About the state of form of his teammates and Contador himself, David stresses that “the team is arriving very well and as for Alberto, I’m telling you, he’s above anything I’ve known. Although it’s clear that in this Tour we’re going to have a lot of very strong rivals, so that we’re going to have to work our butts off in France,” added the Astana rider.

Photo from the Tim de Waele public access gallery


June 30 - Contador: "This year they don’t ask me about Armstrong much"

EL DIARIO MONTANES - Alberto Contador (27, Pinto) has won two of the three Tours that he has ridden. “I’ve never had it easy,” he says. Not even now that he possesses triumphs collected from every corner of the calendar. What motivates him is difficulty, challenge. The Tour. Number three. “What do I feel when I attack and ride away? Pain, a lot of pain in my legs.”

In the peloton, Contador is the shadow that frighens, that shadow that astonishes. Everyone watches him. He is the point around which the Tour’s compass turns. He knows it. And he says that he has the same hunger as the first time.

Before the interview, on the veranda of a hotel at the Dauphiné in Avignon, he greets us energetically. Strong handshake. He is burnished by the sun, ready for the fourth Tour he’s ever ridden. The third that he will win?

Who is Alberto Contador? A mixture of talent, work, ambition, patience…

More or less. You have to have a gift, some natural ability for cycling. But that’s nothing without a lot of work, what I concentrate on, what I’m meticulous about…I know that people get the impression that I get along in the races with ease, without making any effort. But I race some fifty days per year and I’m concentrating on these races another 90 days. You have to work on your natural abilities.

Do you still notice improvement?


Bad news for your rivals.

Haha! Well, the data in the tests that I’ve done says I’ve improved. Although now I have to prove it on the road.

In the 2009 Tour you proved to be impervious to the pressure exerted by Armstrong.

My character has been formed by lots of circumstances. Not just in cycling. I’ve got a brother who suffers from cerebral palsy and that affects you, it forces you to grow up. Then came my illness, which put a stamp on me. In the Tour last year, I learned to endure the pressure.

At 21 years old, you decided to undergo brain surgery. All or nothing.

I was clear about things. If I hadn’t done it, I would’ve had to depend on the people around me for everything in life. And I didn’t want that. I decided, clearly, on surgery.

Cycling hasn’t been easy either, not even last year, when you won the Tour in spite of the criticisms of Armstrong, your teammate at Astana.

The key is knowing what my goal is. Having clarity about it. So I focus all my strength on achieving it. When I work, I give it 100%. When I rest, likewise.

The first Tour that you won (2007), you did it after the expulsion of Rasmussen at the end. You put on the maillot jaune in the midst of scandal. In your second Tour victory (2009), your own team put you in a corner.

That’s true. It was never easy. Due to the accident that I had (the illness) I couldn’t debut in 2004. I did it in 2005. In 2006, the scandal broke that affected the Liberty Seguros team and I was left out of the Tour. In 2007, I won, but it happened because of Rasmussen. And in 2008 they didn’t invite my team, Astana, due to the scandal from the Tour the year before…In the end, I’ve only ridden three out of the six Tours that I could’ve been in.

Is this the first year in which everything has gone the way you want?

Yes. Everything is calmer. I have freedom to maneuver. Man, it’s also true that I’m finishing a contract and that I’ve got to decide my future, but now I have more peace of mind when it’s time to do those things.

Your favorite character in comics is Spiderman. Choose a super power.

Flying. It has to give you an incredible sense of freedom. Feeling like an eagle.

When you attack and continue alone to a summit, is it like flying?

No way. What you feel is pain. Your legs hurt horribly. It’s unbelievable. Your only consolation is knowing that the others hurt just as much. At times like that you don’t enjoy yourself; later you do.

In spite of already having two Tours, the Vuelta and the Giro, you never get carried away by elation.

Each year starts from zero. That’s how I see it. You can’t relax. As soon as you leave something to chance or get off center, it shows. In team sports, maybe you can make up for it. In cycling, in a time trial or on a mountain, you can’t play hide and seek. You either get the job done or not.

In the upcoming Tour, all of your team Astana will be at your disposal, including Vinokourov. What will he contribute?

Magnificent experience, enormous output and a very calm atmosphere on the team. Half of them are going to be Spaniards and the other half Kazakhs. For them, Vinokourov is a reference. I know that my team is prepared to sacrifice themselves as I fight for the Tour.

They say that your weakness is the team. They’ve protected you during the entire season, without forcing you to face the music. Reserved for this Tour.

We’ve ridden surrounding the leader, but in races that weren’t jeopardizing our performance in July, in the Tour. That’s why I made some changes to my schedule (giving up the Tour of the Basque Country and the Volta a Catalunya).

Armstrong’s RadioShack has presented a great team, with Leipheimer, Klöden, Brajkovic…

The best in the Tour, along with Saxo Bank. That’s an advantage for Armstrong.

Do you think he’s a candidate for the Tour?

He’s a candidate. He has a lot of experience and he knows how to take advantage of opportunities.

Do they still ask you about Armstrong much?

This year they don’t ask me about him much.

Is that better?

Neither better nor worse. It means that now there are other things to be interested in.


June 28 - Rain and mud on pavé would make things much worse

EL DIARIO MONTANES - Next Saturday, in Rotterdam, comes the departure of the Tour that pays homage to the rock—the Tourmalet. Any way the coin is tossed, it comes up Alberto Contador.

The pavé from Paris-Roubaix awaits you in the fourth stage.

I know that it will be a difficult day. And the first stages in Holland will be, as well. I’ll have to be very focused. There’ll be wind, tension. And everything will be worse if it rains. The combination of pavé and mud could send you home. Nothing to lose sleep over, though.

You studied those pavé sections with Van Petegem as your guide. What did he recommend?

He surprised me when it came to choosing equipment. I had no idea about things like lowering the pressure of the tires.

The 2010 Tour will pay tribute to the Tourmalet, one of its favorite peaks.

It’s a legend. I’ve only climbed it once, last year. Although we climbed it so slow that I really didn't take it into account. Now I’ve been to see it and I’ve ascended it from both sides. I’d really like to win there, but… Maybe the classification will already be decided by then. You never know if it’s good to have a mountain like that so near the end of the Tour. Whether you have to ride defensively or you have to attack.

Your entire plan looks toward July.

Yes. But things before that also have to go well for us, with several wins.

If you win a third Tour, you’ll catch up to Thys, Bobet and Lemond. Are you pursuing new goals?

First you have to win it, that’s going to be very difficult. I don’t know if I’ll manage it this year or later or never. Since I’m conscious of how difficult it is to win, I have enormous motivation. It is definitely true that I’ve got projects for the future, but it’s still too soon.


June 27 - Contador wraps up Madrid training camp feeling fit

Alberto's core group in the Sierra de Madrid

Contador with his loyal gregarios, left to right: Óscar Pereiro, Dani Navarro, Benjamín Noval, Alberto Contador, Paolo Tiralongo, Jesús Hernández, David de la Fuente (Photo by AC press room)

Alberto Contador finished the last training camp in preparation for the Tour de France on Friday, concluding a week of training with six teammates: Dani Navarro, Paolo Tiralongo, Benjamín Noval, David de la Fuente, Jesús Hernández and Óscar Pereiro.

The camp, which began last Sunday, took place in the Sierra de Madrid, and was based on training for the specific task of scaling the high mountains. Contador also devoted time to a final tune-up of the time trial bicycle that he’ll ride when he begins the Tour de France next Saturday, July 3.

Among other climbs, Alberto did reconnaissance of the summit of Bola del Mundo (2,247 m). This highest peak in the Sierra de Madrid—with ramps of 20% gradient—will be featured for the first time in the upcoming edition of the Vuelta a España. “It’s amazing, very impressive. It has very demanding slopes, and you have to use appropriate gearing. I think that to climb it properly you have to use a 36x28, at least.”

“I’m very happy with the work that we’ve done, both all of my teammates and I,” said Alberto at the end of this final week of preparation and after having reaped good results in the Critérium du Dauphiné. “I want to thank all the members of the team for the great job they’ve done,” added the two-time winner of the Tour.

Contador will travel to Rotterdam next Wednesday, where he’ll also preview the complicated first road stage of the race, in which he expects the wind to be the main difficulty.

Team Astana for the 2010 Tour: Alberto Contador, Alexander Vinokourov, David de la Fuente, Andrey Grivko, Jesús Hernández , Maxim Iglinsky, Dani Navarro, Benjamín Noval, and Paolo Tiralongo. (Official press release, AC press room)



June 22 - Contador's rival, Samuel Sánchez, hints at strategy for mountain stages

It's all about SPAIN

Carlos Sastre and Alberto help pull Samu to Olympic gold in the Beijing road race (Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images)

Samuel Sánchez, Euskaltel’s leader for the Tour de France, considers Alberto Contador “the number 1 favorite” to win the Tour, and Andy Schleck his main rival.

Sánchez says that on July 3, he himself will arrive at the start line in Rotterdam “better than in 2008” and with the goal of “having a high place in the general and fighting for a stage win.”

“The last week is going to be for people with legs and if I’m feeling good when I get there, I’ll be able to pick some fruit,” he said.

According to Sánchez, Stage 15—which finishes at Bagnères-de-Luchon after 20 kilometers of vertical descent from the hors-categorie Port de Balès—is good for him. “An attack is going to mean a lot of pedaling. There are only two curves at the beginning. But it’s a tough stage and you’ve got to get to the top with reflexes at 100%.”

The winner of the gold medal in Beijing admits that the mountain stages of the Tour will be demanding. He has decided to forego the Spanish Championship time trial this week “because I’d rather save my strength for the Tour. I think I'm ready,” he said.

“Samu” agrees with Alberto Contador that the Alps will be “exhausting” and that the Pyrenees, in the final week, “are going to decide the race.” (EFE)


June 17 - Contador: “The Pyrenees are harder and more decisive”

Critérium du Dauphiné 2010

Contador and squad in the Alps (as.com)

AS.COM - After the Dauphiné Libéré, Alberto Contador remained in the Alps in order to inspect the three main alpine stages that will be covered in the Tour on Saturday and Sunday, July 10 and 11 and, after the first rest day, on Tuesday, July 12. His overall conclusion has been that “these stages will mainly be exhausting.”

“People who are in form will be there and whoever isn’t doing well will lose time. But I don’t think that the general classification will be clear after these days.”

The two-time winner of the Tour (2007 and 2009) likes better the Pyrenees stages that come later (July 18-22), which he already looked over at the end of May. “The Pyrenees will be much harder and more decisive. That’s where the race will be in play.”

Alberto visited the climbs in the Alps together with five teammates: the Italian Tiralongo and Spanish riders De la Fuente, Navarro, Noval and Jesús Hernández, all of whom are on Astana’s list of potential candidates for the Tour. During the two days they have covered three stages, starting by covering the one at Rousses in the car to preview its only interesting feature, the finish. “This stage disappointed me. It’s only got three tough kilometers and there are 14 kilometers from there to the finish line.”

“The one at Morzine-Avoriaz is harder. But except for the people who fail, the time differences won’t be excessive. I think that three or four people will reach the finish line together.”

The one he likes best is the Madeleine. “We’ll have to climb a total 4,500 km of slopes. From the summit to the finish there are 32 kilometers, but 23 are descending. Maybe somebody will try it from a distance.”


June 2 - The reigning Tour champion says, “We’ve seen the stages that will decide the Tour.”

Training in the Pyrenees Alberto Contador finished reconnaissance of the four Pyrenean stages of the 2010 Tour today, where he spent four days training with seven teammates: Fofonov, Tiralongo, Noval, Navarro, De la Fuente, Hernández and Pereiro, all of whom are included in the long list of Astana’s Tour roster. (PHOTO GALLERY)

After this phase, Contador plans to take the start at the Critérium du Dauphiné and continue with recon of the two Tour stages in the Alps. At just under a month to go before the start of the Tour de France, the leader of Astana is confident and satisfied with his preparation, although he indicates that he hasn’t reached his best moment of form. “I feel good, but I’m still short of reaching Tour form,” he said. (AUDIO)

Contador has studied the Pyrenees stages in detail and has reached some conclusions. “These four days in the Pyrenees have been tough, because we’ve seen the stages that are going to decide the Tour. They all offer plenty of possibilities.

"The first one finishes at Ax-3 Domaines after climbing a very demanding mountain, the Pailhères; the next day we have another very hard climb at the end, Balès, with the finish line after a descent of 20 kilometers. On the third day some mythic mountains appear, like the Tourmalet and L’Aubisque, which could crack people even though the goal is a long way away. And last but not least is the main dish, with the finish on the Tourmalet, the final chance for victory for the climbers, although the general will probably already be pretty clear.”

Alberto and Andy meet at the top Contador ran into the Schleck brothers on Monday at the top of the Tourmalet, where he arrived after climbing the Aspin.

After exchanging a warm greeting as genuine friends, the men from Saxo Bank, who arrived from the opposite direction after climbing the Soulor, commented to Alberto that L’Aubisque was closed to traffic and, joking, they made a date to meet again in this same place this coming July.

Still lacking detailed knowledge of the stages in the Alps, Contador confirms that in the 2010 Tour “the Pyrenees are going to play the role of judge in the race and, of course, this Tour is harder than 2009.”

Contador himself is coming up to the last phase of his preparation, which has gone without a hitch. “I’m carrying out my preparation just the way I wanted,” he said.

“After the classics I took a complete break (some 10 days without the bicycle) and at first it was a bit of an effort to start up again, but everything’s going according to plan. I’ll face the Dauphiné without pressure, looking for a tune-up, because preparation is going perfectly.“

The same goes for his feelings on the bike. “I feel good, yes, but I’m still short of Tour form, because there are still three and a half weeks left for that and it’s not a good time, it’s still allergy season and that limits me a little,” he said in conclusion. (Official press release and photos: AC press room)

The 2010 Tour de France starts in Rotterdam on July 3 and concludes in Paris on July 25.

All text © 2007-2008 Rebecca Bell, contadorfans@hotmail.com.
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