Albero Contador has said he can’t see Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) winning the Tour de France, saying the Frenchman will ignite the race and entertain on his way to Paris, but will ultimately not be able to compete when the race reaches the high mountains.
“He is a very good racer, like Jalabert, who can fight and even win a Grand Tour, but I can hardly see him winning the Tour,” Contador said.
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The Spaniard highlights stage 13’s time trial in Pau as the next venue of the battle for the yellow jersey, taking place between Alaphilippe and Geraint Thomas (Ineos), who currently sits 1-12 behind in second.
Although saying the yellow jersey may give Alaphilippe the extra motivation to ride a competitive race against the clock, the real test for the Frenchman will come in the mountains, with the summit finish at the Tourmalet a particular danger, where big time losses are a real possibilty.
Although Contador highlights the defending champion as the rider who will take the yellow jersey off Alaphilippe, he believes the Welshman’s Ineos team-mate Egan Bernal will continue to be in the mix right up until the end due to the unpredictable nature of the race.
“Ineos are going to try and keep two options alive as they did last year,” Contador said, “and Bernal is not only there for something to do during July, this guy was born to win the Tour de France and has the potential to do so.”
The two-time Tour winner stands by his pre-race prediction that Bernal is the “clear favourite” to win the 2019 edition, saying this year’s race will be the most open Tour in years, and that Bernal will emerge victorious, with Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) second and Thomas third.
His pick of the Spanish contingent is Enric Mas (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), lamenting Mikel Landa’s (Movistar) crash on stage 10, which saw his GC ambitions effectively end.
“I think he can show off what he can do and have a great Tour, but to recover more than four minutes against most of the favourites I see being very complicated, we will have to see his fitness.”