Monday 22 January 2018

Contador vows to make up lost time in his mountainous comfort zone

Three-time champion Alberto Contador is biding his time until the mountain stages of the Tour de France after losing more ground to rival Andy Schleck in yesterday's second stage.

"The Tour can be lost every day, but it is won in the mountains," said the Spaniard, whose dominance in the mountains is such that his deficit of one minute and 38 seconds on his Luxembourg rival is nothing he cannot overcome.

"Everybody sees me as the overwhelming favourite but some riders like Andy or (Cadel) Evans are in a better position," the 28-year-old said after the second stage, a 23km team time trial in which his Saxo Bank team finished eighth, 24 seconds adrift of Schleck's fourth-placed Leopard-Trek.

Contador lost 1:14 to Schleck in Saturday's first stage after he was trapped behind a big crash and he limited the damage yesterday despite having a team that was not designed for time trials.

"I stay focused," said Contador, who won the Tour last year despite losing more than a minute to Schleck on a flat, cobbled stage in the first week of the race. "The Tour continues and we're here, focused."

Contador, who is awaiting the result of an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the Spanish federation's decision to clear him after a positive test for clenbuterol on last year's race, said he was feeling better by the day after the exertions of winning the Giro d'Italia in May.

"Every day I recuperate a bit more from the Giro," he said. "The legs are good and that is what motivates me."

Contador lies 75th in the overall Tour standings, 1:42 behind leader Thor Hushovd of Norway, while Schleck is 10th, four seconds off the pace, with Evans in second place, one second behind Hushovd.

Nicolas Roche's AG2R-La Mondiale team came home 13th in the stage, 53 seconds behind winners Garmin-Cervelo. As a result, Roche drops from 19th place to 41st overall -- 53 seconds behind the yellow jersey holder.

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Irish Independent

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