Contador vows to fight despite losing more time to his rivals

“I lost more time, and I am still trying to recover before the Pyrénées. I know it’s going to be very difficult,” Tinkoff’s leader told reporters. “I have to take on this Tour differently than we had planned. I hope to recover for the Pyrénées, if not, well, we’ll have to look for a moment in the Alps.”

“The situation is not optimal, but he will get better,” said Tinkoff sport director Sean Yates. “Obviously, having this handicap is a big one. It’s not as bad as it could be. We hoped for an easier stage, but it wasn’t to be because Movistar were putting the hammer down big time, and Sky was riding hard, but not super-hard.”

Contador was left isolated when the late attacks came on the final climb, initiated by Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale). Rafal Majka was up the road in a counter-attack, but did not sit up when it became obvious Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) was going to win the stage. And Roman Kreuziger rode ahead of Contador in the final charge to the line.

“We hoped Greg would blow up. Alberto still had Kreuziger and followed the best he could, but Bardet attacked,” Yates said. “He was there until the very end. There is light at the end of the tunnel. You only have to see the guys coming out the back to see how hard it was.”

“There was a little bit of disorganization, but we can’t get too carried away about that,” Contador said. “The legs are not working, that’s the main problem. My morale is still good. It’s true that it’s been a terrible start to the Tour, and after spending months training and preparation for the Tour, I am not ready to give up yet. Today would have been different if I had been in my normal condition, so I just had to get through it the best I could.”

“I am satisfied because I lost less time than I honestly expected,” Contador continued. “I have to be realistic, and this Tour is going to be more difficult than I would have liked, and we’ll just have to take it day by day.

“Instead of fighting for the GC, maybe we’ll have to look at other possibilities. I am always the most optimistic of anyone, and I will also fight to the end, and keep trying to do something beautiful in this Tour, but my body needs time to recover.”