Saxo-Tinkoff slipped away from the Tour de France’s podium during the final test today. Two-time race winner Alberto Contador lost second overall and fell to fourth on the Annecy-Semnoz summit finish, one day before the race ends in Paris.
“When one gives everything they have, that’s it… I could not be at 100 per cent,” the Spaniard told media at the finish line. “One must congratulate those who have been able to ride away.”
Contador and team-mate Roman Kreuziger cracked between nine and eight kilometres to race. Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) attacked, and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Chris Froome (Sky) followed.
Froome secured his race lead ahead of tomorrow’s flat stage into Paris by finishing third. Quintana won the stage, the white jersey of young rider and took over the polka-dot jersey. Rodríguez placed third.
Contador started the stage at 5-11 minutes back, but now sits in fourth at 7-10. He crossed the line over two minutes after Quintana and Rodríguez, who jumped up to second and third overall.
The places and jerseys – including green for Peter Sagan (Cannondale) – will likely stay the same with sprint finish predicted in Paris tomorrow.
The fourth place is a blow for Contador, who won the Vuelta a España last year. However, since losing his third Tour title to a doping positive and serving a related ban, he has lacked firepower.
Saxo-Tinkoff continued to defend Contador throughout the doping ban and comeback. In the Tour, instead of switching gears to Kreuziger, it rode for Contador. When it came to the mountains, however, they were underpowered.
“Of course, we’re disappointed to be thrown off the podium on this final and crucial mountain stage of the Tour,” Sports Director Fabrizio Guidi said in a press release. “[It] is a bitter pill to swallow.”
Tour de France 2013: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index