Friday, July 13, 2007

Alberto Contador's Daily Stage Report

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.

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 this route.

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