Alberto Contador hits the cobbles to prepare for Tour de France

Alberto Contador rides cobbled sectors included in stage five of the 2014 Tour de France

Alberto Contador hits the cobblestones of northern France ahead of this year's Tour de France which takes in some of the notorious roads. The cobbles have been the undoing of many GC contenders when the race has visited them in the past
Alberto Contador training on the cobbles for the 2014 Tour de France
(Image credit: Graham Watson)

One day after the dust settled, Alberto Contador tested Paris-Roubaix's cobbles. Today, the climber from Madrid rode the cobbled sectors that will make up the fifth stage of the Tour de France.

"Yeah, you can lose everything on the day, but that's always the case in any Grand Tour," Tinkoff-Saxo sports director, Phillippe Mauduit said yesterday. "The organiser writes the script and we just have to make the movie."

Contador stands as one of the favourites to win this year's Tour de France with Chris Froome. The Spaniard in Tinkoff’s yellow kit won Tirreno-Adriatico in March and last week, the Tour of the Basque Country. He also placed second in the Volta ao Algarve and in the Volta a Catalunya stage races.

Froome won the Tour of Oman, but skipped Tirreno-Adriatico with an inflammation in his lower back. He placed sixth in Catalunya.

To prepare for the Tour de France, July 5 to 27, Contador previewed part of its fifth stage today. The 156-kilometre ride to Arenberg looks more like a day for Niki Terpstra, who won Paris-Roubaix yesterday, than a day for skinny Grand Tour types. The stage covers nine sectors, or 15.4 kilometres, on some of France's worst cobbled roads.

One-day riders Lars Boom and Luca Paolini lost control and crashed in yesterday's Paris-Roubaix. The last time the Tour de France visited the area in 2010, the roads forced Fränk Schleck out with a broken collarbone. Andy Schleck finished with the first group and Contador, after a puncture, lost a minute.

"Alberto was not that bad in 2010 compared to the others. He was one of the best actually," Mauduit said. "We need to recon the sectors so that we can do our best."

Contador reconnoitred the sectors with team-mate Nicki Sørensen. Later this year, Tinkoff will return with its entire Tour team.

Alberto Contador hits the cobblestones of northern France ahead of this year's Tour de France which takes in some of the notorious roads. The cobbles have been the undoing of many GC contenders when the race has visited them in the past
(Image credit: Graham Watson)

Added confidence, no Ardennes

Contador will skip the Ardennes Classics next week. His last major race before the Tour de France, will be the Critérium du Dauphiné in June. Mauduit explained that the team will schedule an altitude training camp and preview the Tour's mountain stages, instead.

"He's already had a hard programme with Algarve, Tirreno, Catalunya and the Basque Country," Mauduit said. "It's time for him to take a break."

The Russian-Danish team has more confidence than ever that Contador can win the Tour again, according to Mauduit. He explained that his recent wins help him forget about his failed anti-doping test and suspension. "He's back to normal if you look at what he did from 2008 through 2011. He's back at that level. It's good for him and good for the team."

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Gregor Brown
Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.