Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) is chasing form and Sky, with the Tour de France due to start in two day’s time in Corsica.
“Es complicado,” Contador explained in a press conference this morning. “At the Dauphiné, I was more or less at 75 per cent. Now, it’s difficult to say at what level I’m at, but more or less, I’d say that I am at 90 per cent, which was my objective at the start of the Tour given how the parcours is this year.”
Contador often looked out of the hotel window, over Porto Vecchio’s coast and the Mediterranean Sea, during his pre-Tour press conference.
The Spanish double Tour winner is used to dominating, but since his return from a doping ban he has not been the same. In the Critérium du Dauphiné earlier this month, he faced reality when he lost nearly three minutes to Sky’s Chris Froome in the race’s 32.5-kilometre time trial.
The Tour has two that long, and a team time trial.
Sky and most Tour hopefuls were nearing their best at the Dauphiné. Froome and team-mate Richie Porte dominated and placed first and second.
Percentages are a funny thing, but it would appear they were near their best in the French stage race. Could Contador, who said he was at 75 per cent, make up the remaining 25?
“I don’t know!” Contador’s team-mate and former Sky rider, Michael Rogers said.
“Obviously things can change and guys can ride into better condition. The Dauphiné is the last preparation race for the big guys, with their season highlight at the Tour, sometimes they are still not at their top at the Dauphiné.”
Rogers shook his head, when asked to calculate Contador’s form.
“Putting a percentage on your form is very hard, to put an exact figure on anything is very hard.”
Rogers joined Saxo-Tinkoff after riding with Sky for the last two years. He helped Bradley Wiggins become the first British Tour de France winner last year before jumping to the Danish team.
He admitted the team is behind somewhat.
“Yeah, on some points,” he said. “Obviously, the level of the team has not been what they wanted, but they are working on it. It’s been changing since the start of the year.”
Sky is more advanced in training and sports science, according to Rogers. He added that the team understands what is happening in races, what is required to win and just how the domestiques need to help.
“Contador’s different. He runs off a lot of emotions, he uses his emotions in the races,” Rogers said. “Chris is very calculated, and Bradley was very calculated last year, they know their limits.”
Contador said that he might have to resort to a surprise attack early into a stage to upset Sky if he is behind. He did so in the Vuelta a España last year, caught Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) off-guard and won.
“I’ve studied the parcours, I think this year the race gives more opportunities to try attacks far from the finish line,” Contador explained. “In this case, I need to use that tactic only if the GC battle is complicated for me.”