Cyclist Contador looks to make late push in TourAlberto Contador has work to do to oust race leader Andy Schleck, but the defending Tour de France champion refuses to panic because he can still play his wildcard: the Pyrenees.
Schleck, the Luxembourg rider who finished runner-up to Contador last year, is taking a 31-second advantage over the Spaniard into Sunday’s 14th stage.
But that’s where the fun might end for Schleck.
Sunday’s effort finishes in Ax 3 Domaines, the kind of steep, brutal Pyrenean terrain that Contador loves.
Three more stages in the mountains in four days, with a rest day on Wednesday, give Contador reason to believe the yellow jersey is still well within his reach.
All he has to guard against is making unnecessary mistakes.
“The biggest danger in the Pyrenees is to have a bad day,” he said.
He is in an ideal position heading into the Pyrenees, as he will not have to make the first move.
“I will not take more chances than I need,” he said.
Contador, the two-time Tour winner, showed his appetite for a climb on Friday with a trademark attack in a short ascent averaging a 10.1 percent gradient.
The 27-year-old Astana rider also knows he fares much better in time trials than Schleck. The penultimate stage of the Tour, on Saturday, is a solo effort against the clock from Bordeaux to Pauillac.
“I have the advantage of the time trial if I need to get some time back,” Contador said.
On Sunday, the Tour travels from Revel to Ax 3 Domaines.
“The first pass is very hard, as it has steep inclines and a fast descent before the climb to Ax Trois Domaines, which is short but tough,” Contador said. “The time differences will be very important.”
The toughest part, however, will come in the last of the four Pyrenean stages on Thursday, with a finish at the Col du Tourmalet. The race finishes in Paris on Sunday.