The Tour de France duel between Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck will come down to seconds, according to Astana’s sports director Giuseppe Martini. The advantage, he said, will be with the leader ahead of the final time trail.
“When you start the final time trial with the yellow jersey,” Martinelli told Cycling Weekly, “anything is possible.”
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Schleck holds the yellow jersey with a lead of 31 seconds over two-time Tour winner, Contador. He has four mountain days in the Pyrenees to gain additional time on Contador and said that needs to leave them with a good advantage to defend himself in the 52-kilometre time trial to Pauillac.
Contador won last year’s time trial of 40.5 kilometres to secure his Tour victory. Schleck finished 21st, losing 1’45” and finishing over four minutes down on Contador in the classification.
“It will be a duel in the Pyrenees – Alberto and I,” explained Schleck. “He is nervous and I am nervous because I need to gain more time.”
“Andy only needs a few seconds’ advantage following the mountains to win the Tour de France,” continued Martinelli. “When you start the final time trial with the yellow jersey, anything is possible. So, I would like that after the last mountain stage that we are ahead, even with five seconds.”
Contador gained 10 seconds in yesterday’s stage to Mende. He used a short, steep climb to leave behind Schleck and move closer to a third overall Tour victory. Martinelli said that Contador grabbed the time because he saw Schleck in a moment of weakness.
“Contador’s attack had nothing to do with being worried about the Pyrenees,” said Martinelli.
“Alberto has to aim to make some big gaps tomorrow or on the Tourmalet. Yesterday was good, but nothing major.”
Martinelli joined Astana to direct Alberto Contador last year after Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong left to form RadioShack. He has won five Grand Tours as a sports director: the Giro d’Italia with Marco Pantani (1998), Stefano Garzelli (2000), Gilberto Simoni (2003) and Damiano Cunego (2004), and the 1998 Tour de France with Pantani.
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