|5. Contador’s Mountain Recon
The Alps are looming in this year’s Tour. The boys arrive
in the mountains for Stages 7, 8, and 9, Saturday, July 14 through
Tuesday, July 17.
Here they’ll be put to their first stringent climbing test.
The Pyrenees stages will follow, beginning on Sunday, July 22, even
more brutal than the Alps.
Johan Bruyneel dispatched four Discovery Channel riders to
train in the mountains prior to the Dauphiné Libéré
last month. Contador, Leipheimer, Gusev, and Martinez got a good taste
of what’s to come on the slopes of the Tour de France.
Contador answered a few questions for the press in June and
What have you learned from scouting out the mountains in
the Tour de France? The first thing is that the Pyrenees will be
much more difficult than the Alps. The second is that the stage at Tignes
will be very demanding, because it has long climbs and is about 4,600
meters of ups and downs. It will be one of the key stages, because it’s
also the second highest mountain stage and each rider’s form will be evident.
Are there other stages to consider? Yes, certainly.
The stage at Briançon, with the Galibier, will also be hard,
but not as hard as the one at Tignes. Soon after, in the Pyrenees, there
are a couple of mountain top finishes, especially the one at Plateau
de Beille, that will be very complicated because it occurs after the time
trial at Albi and will be influenced by how well I’ve recovered. Also the
Peyresourde and particularly the Aubisque following the Marie-Blanque near
the end. That stage is sure to shake up the general classification.
Do you like the route? Yes, I like it quite well. The
stage at Tignes will be very hard, although I believe it will be raced
conservatively, thinking ahead to the last week. I think it’s good for
me that the first time trial is after the Alps, because a climber is
under less pressure, and the queen stage, 220 km long ending in l’Aubisque,
will take place after a rest day.
Finally, the second time trial is at the end, when it matters
more to ride hard than to be a specialist. Yes, absolutely, I like
(from Marca, June 9, 2007, and elmundo.es, July 6, 2007)
Alberto at Compiègne, Stage 3, July 10
Copyright © 2007 Christine
|Race Report, Stage 5
Chablis - Autun, 182.5 km
Alberto Contador was content to have stayed upright on the bike
today in Stage 5, unlike some of the favorites, for example, Alexander
Vinokourov, who lost significant time in the last 25 km.
“The success of a day like today has been not falling off”,
said Contador, “though we have paid a very high price, since Benjamin
Noval crashed and it’s likely that tomorrow he will not be able to take
Alberto was upset by the fate of his roommate. Both he personally
and Discovery Channel risk losing a very important support. “Noval
is important both as a racer and also as a person. He’s a very good
buddy, and if he can’t take the start tomorrow it will be a pity and
I will miss him a lot in the race, where he was doing great work. I hope
that he recovers as quickly as possible.”
Contador also commented on the big news of the day, Vinokourov’s
fall. “In these cases, the loss of time is secondary. Certainly, it’s
always better to take such a rival down a notch in the classification.
But I believe that what he must examine now is that he hasn’t suffered
any serious wound that will keep him from riding well in the mountains.”
Finally, Contador admitted that there had been many dangerous
moments for him, too. “There were several that crashed near me and
one rider just ahead who hooked me up on his wheel. But fortunately
I got free and could continue without falling. Today I’ve been lucky.”
Alberto finished with the front pack again, getting the same
time as winner Pippo Pozzato of Liquigas. Alberto moved up in each column.
Stage 5 26th
4:39:01 s.t. Pozzato
Young rider 2nd
Young rider 4th