Contador displays his strengths in France
Contador powered through the time trial on Sunday's prologue, and in the process claimed the leader's jersey, the sprinter's jersey, and the climber's jersey, along with the stage win. All this came after he stated in a press conference that he would not race to win. Afterwards, he downplayed his victory by saying, “Besides, there are a lot of riders in great form here who are hunting for the victory while I’m still not at my best level.”
Photo by AC press room
Today, Contador's weakest spot in racing, his team, seemed to have all but disappeared. Throughout Stage 1, his team, Astana, did little work in front of the peloton and allowed the breakaway to form a huge gap. However, this was not a surprise or the result of a tactical mistake since Contador had stated before the race that he would not defend the leader's jersey.
However, as the peloton approached the end of the race and the roads became hectic, Contador's team sprung into action to defend its leader. After a major crash that split the peloton into small fragments, Contador and his Astana teammates, who were relatively untouched by the accident, decided to take up the pacemaking in the front to prevent him from going down in a crash.
The next test for Contador will be on Wednesday. The long time trial has a profile similar to last year's time trial at Annecy, and will serve as a good indicator of his fitness for longer time trials. And if Contador decides to add the Dauphiné Libéré to his resume, the stage race will be a good test for his team.
Missing from this year's Dauphiné Libéré are Contador's two main rivals for the Tour de France: Lance Armstrong of Team Radioshack and Andy Schleck of Team Saxo Bank, both of whom are opting to do the Tour de Suisse instead.