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Paris-Nice 2010

Riding for Astana:
31 Alberto Contador (ESP)
32 Dimitri Fofonov (KAZ)
33 Maxim Gourov (KAZ)
34 Andriy Grivko (UKR)
35 Dani Navarro (ESP)
36 Benjamín Noval (ESP)
37 Óscar Pereiro (ESP)
38 Gorazd Stangelj (SLO)

Alberto's second Tour

The Year of the Triple Crown

Photo credit: Newsletter logo - Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

PARIS-NICE: MARCH 7-14, 2010

La Course au Soleil - The Race to the Sun

Sunday, March 14, Stage 7: Nice - Nice, 119 km

Paris-Nice 2010

A shot heard round the world: Contador begins his new campaign in France with victory (AC press room)

- Contador dances on pedals to win on Nice's Promenade des Anglais -

Alberto Contador was rewarded today for all the trials he has endured during the past eight days of winter racing in France, emerging as overall winner of Paris-Nice 2010.

Alberto produced spectacle on the final climb of the day, the Col d'Eze, leading the charge of his closest opponents to the goal.

Animating the final kilometers, he sprinted to arrive third at the last intermediate sprint point, receiving one bonus second and effectively locking out Alejandro Valverde from stealing the title on bonifications.

The pattern of daily vicissitudes continued: he lost his chief protector, Benjamin Noval, and just managed to skate past the broken bike of fallen Christophe Le Mevel when it was flung into his path.

But Contador reached finish line, and the triumph, without damage to his physical well-being or to his place on the leaderboard.

The 68th edition of The Race to the Sun trekked through frost and snow in search of Sol and finally found him, not as much on Nice's famous palm-lined avenue as in the beaming faces of the three compañeros on the final podium: Spaniards Alberto Contador, winner, Alejandro Valverde, second, and Luis León Sánchez, third.


Alberto Contador managed to win his second Paris-Nice yesterday, and by doing so he has equaled the record of most wins by a Spanish rider held by Miguel Induráin, who also rode to two triumphs on the mythic Promenade des Anglais. “Winning Paris-Nice means a lot to me, it’s an incredibly prestigious race and I’m especially happy with this victory,” said the leader of Astana.

Alberto Contador finished Paris-Nice 2010 strengthened not only as a rider, but also as the leader of a team—Astana—which has passed the difficult test of this race, fraught with difficulties and by rivals in great form. After both of the first stage races of the year with Alberto, Astana has continued to prove that they are on the path to becoming the team Contador needs in the next Tour. Over all, as their leader said, “because all the riders are turning themselves inside out for me and are striving to do things well.”

Contador has gotten the win after a week full of difficulties, after a crash and missing a split that put his place in the classification in jeopardy, a bit like what happened last year, although on this occasion he managed to surmount all the problems. “You learn from everything,” says Alberto. “Last year things were also difficult and, what’s more, my own strength faltered. This year has had a lot situations requiring decision-making and the tactics worked. Now, a year later, things are very different.”

Despite missing out on another split because of the wind, Alberto isn’t especially worried about this type of stage. “That day I wasn’t in front, but it wasn’t due to not paying attention, because both my team and I were near the front all day. Of course these are important and difficult stages and you just have to pay close attention, that’s all there is to it.”

Alberto said that Paris-Nice “is like a mini Tour de France, it’s complete madness that can’t be controlled by just one team. But when it comes to organizing and making decisions, I think it was a good rehearsal for the Tour.”

Moreover, this second Paris-Nice, compared to the 2007 edition, has also been “extremely important, but it’s true that 2007 served to get everyone better acquainted with Alberto Contador. What’s important this time is that my legs responded and, when it comes time to animate the race, that gives me a lot of confidence for the future.”

Alberto Contador also says that his method of planning is “to go to the races to fight for the GC, but even though I won the last two, I’m not obsessing over victories. Sometimes you can win, sometimes not.”

Finally, he referred to the good work of his teammates, of whom he said that, on television, “you only see the last 40 or 50 kilometers, and you forget that they also worked very hard in the 150 kilometers before that. My team did a good job in this race, even though there were other interests from teams like Caisse and Euskaltel that were able to help us,” he concluded. (Official press release, AC press room)

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 7, 10th (0:03 Amaël Moinard)
Contador in the GC: WINNER (total time of 28:35:35)

HONOR ROLL: Alberto Contador, yellow; Peter Sagan, green; Amaël Moinard, pois; Roman Kreuziger, white; AG2r La Mondiale, team.

GC TOP TEN: 1 Alberto Contador, 2 Alejandro Valverde (0:11), 3 Luis León Sánchez (0:25), 4 Kreuziger (0:26), 5 Samuel Sánchez, (0:30), 6 Voigt (0:35), 7 Rodríguez (0:37), 8 Taaramae (1:07), 9 Peraud (1:16), 10 Coppel (1:17)

Paris-Nice 2010

Saturday, March 13, Stage 6: Peynie - Tourrettes-sur-Loup, 220 km

Paris-Nice 2010

Contador defended the leader's jersey in Stage 6 (AC press room)

- Contador analyzes Paris-Nice finale -


Alberto Contador maintained the leader’s jersey on a day that had been touted as very complicated for his interests. The Astana team responded well to the attacks and the stage was settled with a victory by Xavier Tondo.

Alejandro Valverde, who finished in second place, also gained 6 bonus seconds which brought him to within 14 seconds of Alberto in the general. “The forces have responded to me,” said Alberto Contador, who congratulated Tondo heartily and said that he felt very happy with this result, anticipating the final and definitive stage tomorrow.

Contador said that he also took into account the interests of the rival teams during the stage. “After all, they stood to benefit more by winning than I did,” he said in reference to Caisse d’Epargne.

“Both Luis León and Valverde are only a few seconds behind in the general and they have a very powerful team.

"I’m here to win too, but I’m conscious of how I am and how my team is and I can’t assume responsibility for the whole race. In the end, the interests of Caisse, Garmin and Liquigas also have to come into play.”

Alberto felt very well during the stage, the first one to be ridden in spring-like weather. ”My legs responded and that’s what matters in a very fast stage, because this Paris-Nice will be one of the fastest in recent years.”

On the final climb, Alberto expected more attacks, but none materialized. “People didn’t make any moves, but it’s true that there was a lot of ground left until the finish line. Later, the finale wasn’t really hard enough to get any time gaps either, plus we’ve already spent a lot of days in competition and it’s taking a toll on our strength.”

Finally, Alberto commented that the final stage will also be “ a difficult day, even though I know the route in detail because I’ve almost always made good use of it to attack. This time, at first, and I say at first, I’ll approach it differently, but we’ll see how everthing transpires. Right now I’m going to rest to try to arrive in the best possible condition.” (Official press release, AC press room)

RESULTS: Contador is Stage 6, 17th (0:05). Contador in the GC, WINNER (total time of 25:43:24)

HONOR ROLL: Alberto Contador, yellow; Peter Sagan, green; Amaël Moinard, pois; Roman Kreuziger, white; Liquigas, team

GC TOP TEN: 1 Alberto Contador, 2 Valverde (0:14), 3 Kreuziger (0:25), 4 LL Sánchez (0:26), 5 S. Sánchez (0:29), 6 Voigt (0:34), 7 Rodríguez (0:34), 8 Sagan (0:38), 9 Millar (1:02), 10 Taaramae (1:06)

Paris-Nice 2010

Friday, March 12, Stage 5: Pernes-les-Fontaines - Aix-en-Provence, 157 km

Paris-Nice 2010

Friday's stage was an unexpected leg-breaker (AC press room)

- Stage 5 was “like a Tour stage—but one of the tough ones” -


Alberto Contador kept the leadership of Paris-Nice today after an especially hard day’s work that was fast-paced and hard-fought from start to finish. “It was like a Tour stage, but one of the tough, tough ones,” said the leader of Astana.

“You have to be super-attentive, and there was one point,” said Contador, “ when I had to go after an attack, because Joaquim Rodríguez, Kreuziger and Luis León had gone. That’s what’s going on in this race, there are a lot of riders down by only a little time and it’s very difficult to control. Even though I’m wearing the yellow jersey now, I’m not going to take all the responsibility because neither my team nor I can.”

Contador says that the team “did what it could. It seemed like a stage for the sprinters, that’s it, but it was a leg-breaker and almost impossible to control, because even by the 100th kilometer still no escape had been made.”

Alberto said that he’s still “feeling fine, but in this race you need a very very strong team in to keep it under control, it’s a race that’s won more by counterattacking than by playing defense. Tomorrow will be a very difficult day and I’m not going to assume more responsibility than my team and I can handle.”

Finally, Alberto said that it’s not a duel “between Valverde and me, I wish it were. Tomorrow will be like starting the race all over again, even though it works in my favor that after tomorrow there’s still Sunday. If I get through tomorrow, I’ll wish that I could skip the last stage, but whatever happens, I’ve got cards to play on Sunday,” he concluded. (Official press release/AC press room)

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 5, 10th (0:02 Sagan). Contador in the GC, 1st ( total time 20:41:40)

HONOR ROLL: Alberto Contador, yellow; Peter Sagan, green; Amaël Moinard, pois; Roman Kreuziger, white; Caisse d’Epargne, team

TOP TEN (and riders of note): 1 Alberto Contador; 2 Valverde (0:20), 3 Kreuziger (0:25), 4 LL Sánchez (0:26), 5 Samuel Sánchez (0:29), 6 Voigt (0:34), 7 Rodriguez (0:36), 8 Sagan (0:42), 9 Millar (1:02), 10 Taaramae (1:06), 14 Chavanel (1:27), 20 F. Schleck (2:05), 30 Leipheimer (3:57)


- Contador, the leader, heads a Spanish exhibition in the fourth stage of Paris-Nice -

By Carlos Arribas. (March 12) - Yesterday in Mende, in the town where Laurent Jalabert, the point of ONCE’s spear, put Miguel Induráin against the ropes in 1995, Alberto Contador sketched a mile of turquoise, the color of his jersey.

During exactly 1,600 meters of climbing—abbreviated version, snow on the mountainsides, the one promoted in the Tour, christened Montée Jalabert—the kid from Pinto suffered, rose, stood dancing on the pedals, sitting, the long legs, finally in shorts, burning themselves in the brilliance of afternoon. Alone, like in 2007.

Behind him, a rout, a limited explosion—there was no time for more, nor space—behind him, all those who want to win Paris-Nice. Behind him—the distraction of the fans forgotten and Monday’s crash already overcome—already in his territory, behind Contador, the void.

Behind him at ten, fifteen seconds, his friends.

Fifteen years after Induráin, there are neither races nor teams remaining in Spain but those with riders, the best riders, of a generation that never pedaled one stroke at the same time as the giant of Navarre, those who yesterday, in an exhibition, also colored Mende, another miracle.

Behind Contador, who changed the turquoise at once for the yellow leader jersey, Alejandro Valverde, the winner of the last Vuelta, who won the Tour of the Mediterranean; with him, also at 10 seconds, the Olympic champion, Samuel Sánchez, and slightly farther back, fourth, Purito Rodríguez, bronze in the last Worlds.

Among themselves, and also among Luis León Sánchez, the old man Voigt, the Slovakian boy Sagan (recently turned 20), the Czech Kreuziger, the youths who have held on, they will gamble this weekend for the final victory: tomorrow, a new mountaintop, a climb in the surroundings of Nice; Sunday, the traditional route over the Col d’Eze, the arrival at the Promenade des Anglais.

In front of them, without rival, Contador, unstoppable when the road goes up. Everything that ends at altitude he wins. If any rider, like LeMevel yesterday, threatens even a little at the foot of a mountain, it is enough to make him jump, rejoice, a boy without strings attached, without desire to calculate. “It’s very difficult to win, and more so if the whole world knows that you’re going to attack,” says Contador. “But I won, I took the bonus, I’m the leader and I’m happy for the team, which is going to have a tough few days.”

Others riders, instead, thinking about the Tour, about doubts generated by his team, about pavé stages, about ambushes, about the fans that can expect him in July, these other riders would grab a military handbook or a Machiavelli, a book of formulas that guide one in the way of maximum benefit with minimum cost, in the way of alliances. He—his will, his genius, his talent that admits neither harnesses nor reins—prefers to shuffle the deck before starting to play the game. He wants it like that, and the world enjoys and applauds. “And this race has only just begun,” he says.


Paris-Nice 2010

Thursday, March 11, Stage 4: Maurs - Mende, 173.5 km

Paris-Nice 2010

It's been three years since the last victory at Mende (AC press room)


Alberto Contador won Stage 4 of Paris-Nice today with a powerful ride to the top of the Croix Neuve, also known as the Montée Laurent Jalabert, at Mende.

His team set him up perfectly for the victory. Temperatures never rose above freezing, yet the stage was a trial by fire for the squad that will support Contador in the next Tour de France.

Astana demonstrated the strength and functionality of a winning team, providing, among other things, an exhibition by Dani Navarro as chief mountain gregario and an opportunity to witness Óscar Pereiro coming back into form.

Contador's solo ride to the finish line didn't look much like his breakaway at Arcalis or lone ride into Verbier in the last Tour. Bundled in thermals against the cold, his slender flexible form was disguised as a bodybuilder. The riding style - a deliberate and imposing march - matched the look, but was no masquerade.

RESULTS: Alberto Contador in Stage 4, winner (4:26:47). Alberto Contador in GC, 1st (17:07:23)

HONOR ROLL: Alberto Contador, yellow; Peter Sagan, green; Laurent Mangel, pois; Roman Kreuziger, white

TOP TEN (and rivals): 1 Alberto Contador (total time of 17:07:23), 2 Valverde (0:24), 3 Kreuziger (0:25), 4 LL Sánchez (0:28), 5 S. Sánchez (0:29), 6 Voigt (0:34), 7 Rodriguez (0:36), 8 Sagan (0:54), 9 Millar (1:03), 10 Taaramae (1:06) 16 Leipheimer (1:23), 17 Chavanel (1:27), 28 F. Schleck (2:05), 51 T. Martin (4:15), 81 Cunego (9:05), 96 Boom (11:41)


Alberto Contador lived up to predictions today and won at the arrival in Mende, a short and explosive climb where he proved to be the strongest climber in the race. Alberto repeated the victory that he got here in 2007, the year that he went on to win the overall on the final day in Nice. At the finish line, the margins were slender—10 seconds over Valverde and Samuel Sánchez—but the addition of bonus seconds made Contador the new leader, with 24 seconds over Valverde, 25 over Kreuziger and 28 over Luis León Sánchez. ““The important thing was to win to get the bonus,” Alberto said.

“The idea was to try for the win and to get time gaps, but mainly to win, to get the bonus. It all went the way we’d hoped,” said the leader of Astana, who struck out alone at just over 1.5 kilometers from the goal. “I had to start from a distance and I chose to be very consistent. The advantage wasn’t much, but what mattered was the victory.”

Alberto confirmed that he felt well during the climb, “but not super, super. I had to expend a lot of effort to put myself in a good position, and you pay for that in the final kilometers. But, yes, I had good legs, although I had certain doubts about how the rivals were responding, even though I felt pretty well during the entire stage.”

After this result, however, Alberto doesn’t consider the race decided. On the contrary, “there’s a lot of race left, it’s barely begun, “ he said. “Besides, it’s much more complicated to win this race with the leader’s jersey than when you’re riding at 15 or 20 seconds behind in the general.”

Contador has no doubts about the ability of his teammates. “Yes, my team is strong and they’re turning themselves inside out for me,” he said, “but Paris-Nice is the second or third most difficult race to control in the international calendar. It’s very hard and very crazy. I don’t know how we’re going to be able to respond, but we’re going to try.”

Finally, Alberto said that Paris-Nice “still could be lost in every stage, because there are many riders down by only a little. It’s still not won.”

Paris-Nice 2010

The first pistol is fired in France in 2010 (AC press room)

Paris-Nice 2010

Wednesday, March 10, Stage 3: Saint-Junien - Aurillac, 208 km


Alberto Contador countered an attack by Nicolas Roche on the climb of the Côte de la Martinie in the final kilometers today and became an instigator in a nasty dogfight to the finish line among six of the ace riders at this edition of Paris-Nice.

It’s naïve to be surprised by an action by Contador on a climb three kilometers from any finish line, but the insignificance of the côte and his supposed vulnerability since Monday’s crash made this a shock. For spectators, an agreeable one.

The stage started late on a bleakly sunny morning after 53 kilometers were cropped off the first section of the course due to snowfall. As the stage progressed at more relaxed tempo than earlier stages, Caisse d’Epargne assumed control on behalf of LL Sánchez, the defending champion, and his teammate Valverde. Astana stayed near the front, surrounding Contador.

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 3 - 6th (0:02 Sagan). Contador in GC – 7th (0:20 Voigt)

HONOR ROLL: Voigt, yellow; Sagan, green; Mangel, pois; Sagan, white; Liquigas, team.

TOP 12: 1 Voigt (total time of 12:40:46), 2 Sagan (0:06), 3 Sánchez (0:09), 4 Millar (0:12), 5 Kreuziger (0:14), 6 Boom (0:20), 7 Contador (0:20), 8 Leipheimer (0:24), 9 Rodriguez (0:28), 10 Tondo (0:28), 11 Valverde (0:30), 12 Samuel Sánchez (0:33)


Alberto Contador crossed the finish line in sixth place in Aurillac, after getting away with a front group on the last slope of the day, a rise of a little more than a kilometer, although it was enough to take a handful of seconds at the line on almost all the favorites.

The day started with snowfall that forced the organization to shorten the stage by about 50 kilometers, although the tough part of the day’s work wasn’t reduced by much.

“The cold put its stamp on the day,” verified Contador. “The race was shortened by 50 kilometers due to the snow, even though in the end we were able to do the stage, but it was always marked by the cold.”

“There was a tiny hill at the end, almost nothing,” explained Contador, “only a little more than a kilometer, but the cold was hurting and the pack was split into several parts.”

The leader of Astana, nevertheless, was able to stay at the front, proving that the injury to his left leg was practically forgotten. “The legs are responding pretty well for the time being and we hope that tomorrow they’ll do well, too,” said Alberto, referring to the arrival at Mende.

“More than for having a go, it was to keep from losing time,” he explained about his performance today. “I was able to stay at the front, but in the sprint I just touched a rider from Columbia (Tony Martin) and had to drag my foot on the road until I got it back on the pedal. I hope that those seconds that I lost get worked out,” he said.

After studying the video of the arrival, however, the race judges ruled that there was no reason to change the classification. The result was that Alberto Contador, 6th, lost two seconds on the winner and gained four seconds on the group of favorites.

Alberto is now in 7th place in the general, 20 seconds behind Jens Voigt, who has taken over the leadership from Lars Boom. (Official press release, AC press room)


The excitement began at the foot of the 2nd-category Côte de la Martinie, an 1,100 meter climb of 7.2% gradient cresting at three kilometers from the finish line.

Roche, the Irish champion, attacked and got a little space. One by one, several riders broke from the pack in agitated pursuit of Roche. Peter Sagan (Liquigas) was next to respond, followed by Tony Martin (HTC Columbia).

When Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) tried to join them at the crest of the hill, Contador jumped, pushing hard. Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) powered onto Alberto’s wheel.

The vicious six-man dogfight snapped and snarled to the finish line. It was a thrilling sprint, nothing like the specialists’, but deft and lethal instead. Sagan crossed first, then Rodriguez, Roche and Voigt. Martin and Contador briefly hooked wheels but avoided catastrophe, finishing in 5th and 6th.

Paris-Nice 2010

Tuesday, March 9, Stage 2: Contres - Limoges, 201 km


Alberto Contador rode through discomfort from a contusion on the left leg to finish in 17th place, with the same time as stage winner William Bonnet of Bbox.

His team pulled themselves together after the fracas that caused the crash yesterday. Another tense stage in winter temperatures ended with a crash at 500 meters from the goal which ultimately did not affect Contador. His time in the GC remains the same.

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 2, 17th (s.t. Bonnet). Contador in the GC, 9th at 0:25.

HONOR ROLL: Lars Boom, yellow; LL Sánchez, green; Laurent Mangel, pois; Lars Boom, white

TOP TEN: 1 Boom (total time 8:55:51), 2 Voigt (0:05), 3 Luis León Sánchez (0:10) 4 Millar (0:13), 5 Kreuziger (0:15), 6 Henderson (0:20), 7 Sagan (0:23), 8 Leipheimer (0:25), 9 Alberto Contador (0:25), 10 Tondo (0:29)

PRESS RELEASE: “Continuing in the race is guaranteed"

Alberto Contador managed to finish an especially complicated stage today, since he had to overcome the consequences of the crash that injured his left leg yesterday. His outlook is on the upswing after the 200-kilometer journey from Contres to Limoges, because the danger of abandoning is now gone. “Continuing in the race is guaranteed,” confirmed Alberto from Astana’s hotel.

“The day was more or less as I expected,” Contador explained. “I knew that it would be a complicated day and that I wasn’t going to be able to pedal well as a consequence of the injury, but as I got warmed up, each time I pedaled was better.”

Nevertheless, he’s still not completely comfortable. “I couldn’t get into my natural pedal stroke,” he said, “but I was able to salvage a long day and now I have to work with the masseur to see if in two or three more days I can be perfect.”

Alberto assured that he’s already out of danger of abandoning. “I really don’t think I’ll be going home, because today was an acid test. I was able to finish, plus I was able to keep to the front, so continuing in the race is guaranteed.”

Contador is taking this race as training for the Tour, owing to its toughness. “The average speeds are very high and there’s a lot of tension throughout the entire stage. You have to pay attention at all times, so it’s like a training session for the month of July and the Tour.”

Finally, Alberto said that so far “the rider that seems the strongest to me is Jens Voigt. Even though things are going well for a lot of people, he’s the one I’m keeping a close eye on,” he said. (AC press room)



The weather was sunny but quite cold. An escape left at 4 kilometers and wasn’t resolved until Km 183, when Laurent Mangel of Bbox, the new KOM, was caught. The closing kilometers were animated by an attack by his teammate Cyril Gautier—annulled—and a dramatic but select crash at about 500 meters to go. A rider clipped road furniture and went down, tripping up five or so others, including Astana’s Dimitri Fofonov.

Alberto Contador was caught behind the incident but didn’t fall, and since the 3-kilometer rule was in effect, there was no harm, no foul to his finishing time.

The crash interfered with the plans of some of the sprinters, but gave Bbox’s William Bonnet his chance to win a stage at Paris-Nice. Liquigas’ Peter Sagan—the youngest rider in the race at 20—followed Bonnet. Luis León Sánchez rode aggressively and smart on his own moxy and with plenty of help from his team. He arrived third, adding a few bonus seconds to his advantage over the other favorites, something worth the trouble in a race that’s likely to be decided by a slim margin.

Astana was in the mix at the front of the pack, sometimes on point, during the stage, with Grivko and Gourov visible as icebreakers.


Astana manager Yvon Sanquer, before the stage: "You have to put things into perspective. There was a small loss yesterday; sometimes in Paris-Nice 17 seconds can be significant but what happened is also no catastrophe. I'm not saying everything is fine but in Mende on Thursday there will be a possibility for gaps to be created.

"Nothing is definite so far, neither in Alberto's favour, nor the opposite. I just hope the crash will be without any consequence."

"The team has yet to find their marks. A group is in formation and works pretty well. We've never said we'd be 100 percent ready for Paris-Nice, we also never said we were a dream team but it's going well." (Cyclingnews)

"I saw Alberto this morning at breakfast and he doesn’t feel too bad. It’s never good to crash but you can only tell how you feel once you’re on the bike. It’s a pity about yesterday as we were at the front all day and a brief lapse of attention cost us dearly, even if the Caisse d’Epargne played it well. Also Benjamin Noval was not at his best and he’s very useful with his experience in this type of situations. Of course, instructions have been given to be even more cautious today." (letour.fr)

Bernard Hinault, in “The Badger’s View”: I don’t think Contador was not cautious enough, I simply notice he is not comfortable with ’bordures’*. It’s probably his only weak spot. In this respect, his team must learn to protect him because we could find ourselves in the same situation on the Tour, especially in Holland where it could be even more windy. In the first three days, there could be splits any time.”

Caisse d’Epargne team director, Yvon Ledanois, whose meticulous recon of the course allowed his team to make the move that cracked the peloton in Stage 1: "I don’t like improvisation. It took me six hours by car, on my own, taking notes. On my own as I don’t want anybody else on board because you chat and miss things." (L’Equipe via letour.fr)

*Bordures are shield-shaped formations in the peloton that facilitate fast riding into gusting winds.

Paris-Nice 2010

Monday, March 8, Stage 1: St-Arnoult-en-Yvelines - Contres, 201.5km

RESULTS: Contador in Stage 1, 67th at (0.17 Henderson). Contador in the GC, 8th at 0.25.

TOP PLACINGS: 1 Boom, 2 Voigt (0:05), 3 Millar (0:13), 4 LL Sánchez (0:14), 5 Kreuziger (0:15), 6 Henderson (0:20), 7 Leipheimer (0:25), 8 Alberto Contador (0:25), 9 Sagan (0:29), 10 Tondo (0:29), 13 Samuel Sánchez (0:34)


The second stage of Paris-Nice turned out to be a tough race for Alberto Contador, who crashed at about 3 kilometers from the line, causing a strong impact to left thigh. “What worries me is the knock on the leg. It’s pretty affected now and that’s while I’m still warm. I hope to be able to continue in the race tomorrow,” he said shortly after crossing the finish line.

“It was a question of tenths of a second,” explained Contador. “I was going to the left in a relatively normal way when someone snagged me and jerked me to the left. I’ve totally broken the front wheel and gotten a good smack.”

Quickly, Stangelj gave him his bike and Alberto tried to reconnect with the peloton. The crash happened very close to the last 3 kilometers, and at the finish line the judges determined that the peloton had already passed that mark, so even though Contador managed to bridge on his own, he would have been given the time of the group that crossed 17 seconds behind the winner anyway.

Contador complained about the hard knock. “The problem is a blow to the muscle, that’s what can bring down the level of my performance, although I hope to be able to start tomorrow.” About the gap, he said that it was “a pity to have gotten left back, mainly for my team, because we were at the front all day and we were paying attention every second.”

Alberto Contador now hopes “to analyze the situation in the general, but the truth is that I’m not worried about the 17 seconds that the front group took, but rather the consequences of the crash. It would have been better not to lose time, but the most important thing is seeing how I recover.”

(Official press release, Alberto Contador press office)


Alberto Contador crashed in the final kilometers of Stage 1 of Paris-Nice today, but rode back into the main chase group on the bicycle of his teammate Gorazd Stangelj.

A late attack by Caisse d’Epargne established an escape that grew to 17 riders in the final 10 kilometers of the turbulent stage. The group contained many of the aces: race leader Boom, as well as Voigt, Valverde, Luis León Sánchez, Kreuziger, Millar and others.

Astana failed to make the split. Samuel Sánchez and Levi Leipheimer were also among those left behind to fight the wind and the effects of several crashes.

These three favorites benefited from the strength of the remaining pack of about 45 men. Behind them, the shreds of the tattered peloton stretched into the distance.

With less than 3 kilometers to the goal, Contador went off the left side of the road in company with Stangelj and Heinrich Haussler. Stangelj, limping, came to the rescue immediately, handing over his bike.

The team waited to bring their leader back, but after a nervous stage under the assault of harsh elements and many attacks, Astana lacked the strength to drive their leader forward.

Contador was able to bridge back to the remnants of the chasing pack on his own after outstripping his lieutenants, who were on hand but simply unable to match his pace. The damaged was held to a loss of 17 seconds.

The stage was won in a sprint by Greg Henderson of Sky. Lars Boom, the 24-year-old Rabobank leader, kept the yellow jersey and all the other classification jerseys—even that of best young rider.

Tomorrow’s ride to Limoges is another flat transitional stage. Snow is forecast along the route.


“What worries me is not the seconds lost compared to the first group, but rather how much it could hurt tomorrow when I wake up, after a whole night’s rest,” Contador said at the finish line, according to Spanish news wire EFE.

Contador, who crashed at 4 kilometers to go, sustained an impact injury with haematoma on the left thigh, next to the hip. In prinicple, no x-rays will be needed to determine the extent of the trauma.

The accident happened at a complicated moment, since they were moving forward to the 15-man escape group containing Spaniards Alejandro Valverde and Luis Leon Sanchez, both of Caisse d’Epargne—the team that created the split in the peloton.

“We saw the cut too late and at the moment of the crash I was bridging with two teammates. It’s not the lost 17 seconds that worry me, it’s how I’m going to feel tomorrow,” Contador emphasized.

VIDEO OF CRASH (Advance reel to 3:11)

Paris-Nice 2010

Sunday, March 7, Prologue: Montfort-l'Amaury circuit, 8 km (ITT)

Alberto Contador finished the opening time trial of Paris-Nice today in fourth place, six seconds off stage winner Lars Boom and just two-tenths of a second behind Levi Leipheimer.

“It’s true that winning wasn’t possible, but that’s not what’s most important, because I’m very happy with my performance,” he said.

“Hitting tempo at the outset cost me a little and it had an impact on this time trial, but later I was pretty comfortable. I didn’t manage to win, but that’s even better considering the team, because we have less responsibility,” said Contador. “There are other riders who are very strong, but I also got some important time on people like Chavanel, Schleck and Valverde.”

The time trial had a section of cobblestones at the beginning, but for Contador it wasn’t significant. “It’s always different than if it was a smooth road, but it didn’t have much effect on the race, because it was a short section. Besides,” he concluded, “I felt pretty comfortable on it.” (AC press room)

RESULTS: Contador in the prologue - 4th (0:06 Lars Boom). Contador in the GC - 4th (0:06 Lars Boom)

FAVORITES: 1 Lars Boom (10:56), 2 Jens Voigt (0:03), 3 Levi Leipheimer (0:06:21), 4 Alberto Contador (0:06:41), 7 David Millar (0:11), 8 Luis León Sánchez (0:12), 10 Samuel Sánchez (0:15), 9 Roman Kreuziger (0:13), 31 Alejandro Valverde (0:29), 49 Sylvain Chavanel (0:35), 72 Christian Vande Velde (0:42), 85 Frank Schleck (0:48)


The 68th edition of Paris-Nice began with a sunny 8-km circuit ITT on a mostly-flat course. Flat and sunny was not the whole story, however: three-degree temperatures at race time, exacerbated by freakish wind, plus two deceptive slopes—including the 3rd-category Côte de Boursouffle—clearly made a tough job for the riders.

Rabobank’s Lars Boom took the lead early in the day and held on in spite of drives by Jens Voigt, Leipheimer and Contador.

Boom, who possessed jerseys in all four classifications at day’s end, covered the course in 10:56, 3 seconds faster than Voigt, which proved Contador right in saying the day before that “winning or not will be question of 2 or 3 seconds.”

Contador had also hinted that there could be some unexpected gaps among the favorites. That was accurate, too, since Valverde, Chavanel, Vande Velde and Frank Schleck all felt the sting of too many seconds lost on such a short course.

Alberto Contador, “the undisputed king of cycling,” and “the greatest rider of his generation,” was unruffled by one or two bumps in the road. The new Shiv model Specialized bike arrived from the USA in the nick of time, but with no margin for error. There was a hard start—an upward tilt over pavé—a headwind into the finish and an obviously annoying malfunctioning earpiece that cut him off from his director following in the car.

Nevertheless, Contador’s showing with the new Shiv, the hot Spanish Champion’s kit and the early season form that fairly shouts spectacle was thrilling, even on a day with a fourth-place finish.


Paris-Nice 2010

Paris-Nice 2010

Profiles and map from letour.fr


March 6 - The new Shiv TT bike is worth waiting for

Paris-Nice 2010

Alberto Contador and Mike Sinyard, CEO of Specialized (AC press room)

Alberto Contador will take the start tomorrow in the opening time trial of Paris-Nice, covering a route that he reconned today on his new bicycle. On the new Shiv, modified according to UCI regulations, he hopes to produce a far better performance than in the Algarve, where he was forced to compete with an obsolete model and without time for training. Today, in a press conference, he offered his latest impressions.

After winning in 2007 and having shown that you were able to win in 2009, what does Paris-Nice mean to you?

It’s a race that I really like and which is held at a period of the year when I’m usually in good form. Besides, it’s a little rehearsal for the Tour de France, with very tense stages, similar routes—above all in the flat stages—and with an extremely high level. Of the first races of the season, it’s probably the most important.

What lessons have you learned from last year’s bonk?

That was a very important stage and you learn a lot of things from days like that, because really, when things don’t go well is when you can extract some lessons. There were many factors on that day, but the things I derived from it were good, like how you have to be more stoic in the race, to think about the other candidates for the general and prioritize who the more dangerous ones are, besides, obviously, you can never forget to eat and drink, and even though all riders know that, there’s always some day that you forget.

How’s the route of this time trial and what do you expect from the new bike?

It’s a tough route and, even though it’s only 8 kilometers, it’s possible to take more time on other riders than you might expect. About the bike, there’s a big difference. This is the Shiv, the one I’ve gotten used to in training, and it’s totally different from the one at the Algarve. I hope to give it a good premiere tomorrow.

What’s the difference between the two bikes?

They’re completely different because this is a more evolved phase, it’s faster in the wind tunnel, lighter and more rigid. They’re changing many factors and everything’s better.

On the eve of Paris-Nice 2009 you said that you’d never be great against the clock and the next day you won. During the year you confirmed your improvement and now you’ve gotten second in the Algarve, are you a time-trial specialist or is it that you come into form more easily?

It’s a little of both things. It’s true that since becoming a professional I’ve done well at the time trial and I’ve improved thanks to equipment and taking care of all the details, but it’s also certain that I take form very quickly. What’s important, nevertheless, is the very, very hard work that’s behind it all. It might seem like I go to the race and win thanks to my inherent qualities, but what really produces that is the work.

Has Team Astana changed much since last year, are you calmer now?

Yes, this year I have much more peace of mind for concentrating on my goals as an athlete and I’m also very happy with the team, because I’m in touch with all the riders and, for example, there are a lot of them that wanted to come to this race and there wasn’t a place for everybody. That indicates the great motivation that they have.

At the beginning of the season, people were talking a lot about how weak Astana was but, after the Algarve, they’re starting to say that the team is stronger than it seemed, do you agree?

Of course the team has a very good level and its performance at the Algarve has been unbelievable. I hope things go that way all year, but it’s also certain that controlling the Tour de France is not the same. At any rate, I’m sure that I’ll have a very strong and very competitive team, even if others maybe have more big names and more experience.

In 2007, you won at Mende, do you think that this year you’ll be able to take differences, and what are the key stages of the race?

I’ve got good memories of that year, although not so good of the 2005 Tour de France. The climb at Mende is very different from the one last year, it’s short and explosive; the gaps will be minimal. It’ll be a very difficult race, like Paris-Nice always is, but with such small time gaps, you’ll have to control many riders.

The time trial tomorrow is a goal, who are the favorites?

It’ll be a good test for me. I’ll put everything into it and hope to do well, but winning or not will be a question of 2 or 3 seconds and there are other riders who are very strong. Tomorrow there’s a big group of favorites, like Millar, Vande Velde, Samuel Sánchez, Luis León, Chavanel…and lots of others that I’m not mentioning. I hope to have a good day, but the time gaps will be minimal.

(Official press release, Alberto Contador press office)


March 5 - Contador will vye for another title in the Race to the Sun

Volta ao Algarve 2010

Contador expects the arrival of his new crono bike before the Stage 1 time trial on Sunday (AC press room)

Alberto Contador will begin his second race of the season on Sunday at Paris-Nice, a competition that, since his victory in 2007, has always had a special significance for him. The occasion also marks his first return to French roads since winning the Tour, which has been another source of motivation for reaching the start line in good physical condition. “I’m arriving in a good state of form,” says the leader of Astana, “although I’ve only done a little more work since the Volta ao Algarve.”

How’s your current condition?

I’ve had a cold, I think as a consequence of the rain we had to put up with in Portugal, but in spite of everything, I think that I’m in good form.

What have you been doing since your victory in the Algarve? What has changed since then?

I’ve rested a little more than planned, because it was a tough tour, also because I had the cold. Since then I’ve done some training with the idea of brushing up on the work I did during the winter, but I don’t know if I’m better or worse than I was in Portugal, because things were already going really well there.

In Paris-Nice 2009 you suffered a spectacular bonk, do you have a desire for revenge or is that just an entertaining story from the past?

No, I don’t desire revenge. That was a pretty valuable experience that served to let me know that you can’t be careless about anything and that you have to take a stoic view of the race. It cost me the victory in 2009, yes, but an important experience came with it.

What are your goals, will you fight to win?

Of course I’m going to try to fight to win with the team that I’m going with, to be in the fight, although it’s really difficult to win and there are riders who are very strong and who’ve got more miles in their legs than I do, like Luis León or Valverde, who’ve done more days of competition. The goal, in any case, is to be there.

Who are the favorites?

There are riders that I think are farther along than I am, like Luis León or Valverde. Alejandro already knows what it's like to win nearby, in the Tour of the Mediterranean, and he’s also been in Australia and Almería. At the beginning of the year, you really notice having more days of competition. But in a race like Paris-Nice, there’s a wide range of favorites. There’s also Samuel Sánchez, Frank Schleck, Sandy Casar and Chavanel, among many others.

How does this edition’s route seem, what are the key points?

It’s a good route, but the difference is that the summit finish, at Mende, is short and very explosive. I already climbed it in 2007 and the time differences will be minimal. This year the victory will be decided by a few seconds and the time bonuses will probably be important. The last three days in the mountains will be very difficult to control, just like it always is in Paris-Nice. The podium will be decided by a very slim margin.

The time trial is coming up on Sunday, do you have the new bicycle ready?

I hope that I will not have to use the one from the Algarve. It still hasn’t arrived from the United States, but it’ll arrive in time and I hope to do the best crono I can. The route doesn’t have any climbs, there are eight pretty flat kilometers, but I still hope to be with the front-runners there. Last year I won, but I don’t think that I’ll be at the same level this year.

(Official press release: AC press room)


March 5 - Team director Martinelli explains

Paris-Nice 09 Alberto Contador's Paris-Nice squad has lost two climbers: De la Fuente and Hernández.

They've been replaced by Grivko and Stangelj - two capable rolleurs - but won't the race be too hard to succeed without the climbers?

Here’s the answer from Astana chief director Giuseppe Martinelli, according to Alberto’s bike sponsor SPECIALIZED.

"Alberto is going well," said Astana's sports director, Giuseppe Martinelli. "At Paris-Nice he faces a start list with a lot more big names on it than what he found in Algarve, this is for sure. Algarve gave Alberto extra morale, but it won't be easy to repeat it at Paris-Nice.

"When your morale is high, though, you start with desire and a feeling of security. To win or to place is in our grasp, but we are going into it cautiously."

"Mende will be decisive, but also the last stage in Nice, which is usually a battle from the start to finish," explained Martinelli. "It's a short stage and you have to be ready for anything, and you have to have a good team behind you. Anything can happen.

"It is a hard course, but not as hard as in the last years. There is a mountaintop finish, but it is not one of the big ones. So, you have to be attentive all the time, also in the opening eight-kilometre prologue."

"We changed out two riders in the last days," Martinelli continued. "Jesús Hernández and David De LA Fuente are unable to start, so we brought in Andriy Grivko and Gorazd Stangelj. Hernández is really ready to race, but he has a small knee problem that he is working on. But he was not 100% sure and there was a risk of making the situation worse. We would rather be safe and have him ready for Volta a Catalunya and País Vasco.

"De La Fuente's kneecap was bothering him on the last day of Algarve and it basically stopped him for 10 days."

Riding for Astana at Paris-Nice: Alberto Contador, Dimitri Fofonov, Maxim Gourov, Andriy Grivko, Benjamín Noval, Dani Navarro, Óscar Pereiro, Gorazd Stangelj


March 3 - Paris-Nice: the mini-Tour

Alberto Contador's next outing, the Paris-Nice bicycle race, is a grueling eight-day sampler of French terrain, so its image as a miniature version of the Tour de France is a natural.

The excursion from the icy north to the Mediterranean coast is a traditional early-spring test for Tour contenders eager to tune their radars to a setting that is, from the côtes and cols to the maillot jaune and the prize toy lion, purely French.

Have all the Tour de France greats also won Paris-Nice? Many have, but not all. Of those who won the Tour five times or more, Anquetil prevailed at Paris-Nice five times, Merckx three times and Induráin twice, while neither Hinault nor Armstrong ever won the overall, although Armstrong won a stage in 1995.

Alberto Contador has won one overall Paris-Nice title plus four stages to date.

Some Tour contenders who’ve never made the top step on the Champs Elysées have dominated at Paris-Nice, most notably Irish legend Sean Kelly, who won seven times in a row, 1981-1988. Laurent Jalabert won three titles, 1995-1997, and Contador’s current Astana teammate Alexander Vinokourov has won twice, 2002-2003.

FYI: Vino’s friend, Kazakh rider Andrei Kivilev, died from a head injury sustained in a crash during Stage 2 of Paris-Nice in 2003. Kivilev was not wearing a helmet. The outcry after his death resulted in enforced use of helmets—Kivilev’s legacy of safety to the international peloton.

2009 RACES

Alberto Contador 2009

Race reports: Spanish Championship, Dauphiné Libéré, País Vasco, Castilla y León, Paris-Nice, Volta ao Algarve, criteriums


2008 RACES

Race Watch 2008

The Year of the Triple Crown: Reports, results, photos, comments


All text © 2007-2008 Rebecca Bell, contadorfans@hotmail.com.
Web design by Nicky Orr and Modem Operandi. Masthead photo credits: (1) bbc.co.uk (2) Liz Kreutz, kreutzphotography.com.