Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) lost time in the Tour de France first climbing stage to Le Lioran today after he crashed twice in the opening days, but he says he is not giving up in his hope to win a third overall title.
The 2007 and 2009 winner from Madrid, Spain slipped back 33 seconds from the favourites group with Sky's Chris Froome when the race arrived at the Massif Central ski resort for stage five. He is suffering from falling on his right side in stage one and his left in stage two, when he already lost 48 seconds.
"I lost more time, but for me, I am still trying to recover before the Pyrenees this weekend," Contador said mobbed by journalist on the finish line.
"I know it's going to be very difficult. 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 going to give up yet. Today would have been different if I had been in my normal condition, so I had to get through it the best I could."
An escape dominated the day and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) won the stage to take the yellow jersey. Sky drove behind and Movistar with Nairo Quintana ramped up the pace on the penultimate climb. Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) followed with an attack and Contador lost pace to a select group.
"I knew that Movistar was going to make the stage hard today. I was putting everything into the pedals. I am satisfied because I lost less time than I honestly expected," Contador added.
"I have to be realistic, and this Tour is going to be difficult than I would have liked. Instead of fighting for the GC, maybe we'll have to look at other possibilities.
Watch: Tour de France stage five highlights
"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. I'll never give up."
Contador continued to pedal upwards from the line at 1,235 metres altitude. He reached his bus, where Sports Director Sean Yates waited for his star. The results showed that he stands 1-21 behind the group with Froome in the overall classification.
"Obviously he's still recovering," Yates said. "When you consider how bad he was after his crash, how hard the stage was and how many guys were left, there was definitely a sign of improvement. It was ultimately because Bardet attacked on the summit that he got distanced.
"He lost 48 seconds the other day. Today, he was there, though. It was not optimal by a long shot, the situation is bad, but he will get better. Obviously, having this handicap is a big one. He's in a bad situation, but there is hope at the end of the tunnel."
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1