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.”

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.

Tour de France 2010: Latest news

Renshaw disqualification overshadows Cavendish’s win

Charly Wegelius pulls out of Tour

Did Armstrong own a stake in Tailwind Sports, or not?

Cavendish in a ‘must win’ situation for Tour’s green jersey

Millar rides through pain barrier to make time cut

Roche alongside Tour’s top men ahead of Pyrenees

Wiggins to aim for Tour de France stage win?

Dan Lloyd battles on in Tour despite groin strain

Bradley Wiggins: Tour rest day conference

Evans faces rough ride in yellow

Riis secures replacement sponsor but Shleck in doubt

Tour de France 2010: rest day review (July 12)

Armstrong’s Tour de France dream ends

Sky’s objective clear ahead of Tour’s high mountains

The Feed Zone (July 10): Tour de France news and views


Tour de France 2010: Stage reports

Stage 12: Rodriguez wins as Contador attacks

Stage 11: Cavendish bags third stage win but lead out man kicked out of Tour

Stage 10: Cavendish bags third stage win but his lead-out man is kicked out of race

Stage 10: Paulinho claims narrow stage victory on Bastille day

Stage nine: Casar wins stage as Schleck and Contador go head-to-head

Stage seven: Chavanel wins stage and takes overall as Thomas drops out of Tour’s white

Stage six: Cavendish makes it two as Tour hots up

Stage five: Cavendish wins his first stage of Tour

Stage four: Petacchi wins into Reims

Stage three: Hushovd takes dramatic win; Thomas second on stage and GC

Stage three live coverage: As it happened

Stage two: Comeback man Chavanel takes victory in Spa

Stage one: Petacchi wins in Brussels as bunch left in tatters

Prologue: Cancellara pips Martin to win

Tour de France 2010: Photos

Stage 11 photo gallery

Stage 10 photo gallery

Stage nine photo gallery

Stage eight photo gallery

Tour 2010 wallpaper

Stage seven photo gallery

Stage six photo gallery

Stage five photo gallery

Stage four photo gallery

Stage three photo gallery

Stage two photo gallery

Stage one gallery

Prologue photo gallery

Tour de France 2010: Videos

Stage 11 video highlights

Stage 10 video highlights

Stage nine video highlights

Stage eight video highlights

Stage seven video highlights

Stage six video highlights

Stage five video highlights

Stage four video highlights

Stage three video highlights

Stage two video highlights

Stage one video highlights

Prologue video highlights

Tour de France 2010: Race guide

Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index

Official start list, with race numbers

Brits at the Tour 2010

Tout team guide

Tour jerseys: What they are and what they mean

Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins

Tour de France 2010: Pictures

Tour team presentation, Rotterdam

Tour teams take to the cobbles: Photo special