Alberto Contador went on the attack on stage 18 of Tour de France in an effort to shake things up in the GC. Having suffered a downhill crash a mere 24 hours earlier, the Tinkoff-Saxo captain deployed a series of accelerations on Col de Glandon, which decimated the group of favorites. Despite the effort, a diminished group of favorites made it to the finish line behind stage winner Romain Bardet.
After crossing the finish in St-Jean-de-Maurienne, Alberto Contador explains that his attack was driven by sheer determination.
"This was one of the toughest days on the bike. I wanted to try things and see what could be done but at the end we didn't achieve anything in particular. I dropped Valverde on Glandon, this always brings confidence but the only thing I now focus on is to recover. It was a very hard stage and my attacks were more driven by the heart than the legs. I was able to observe a few things and we will now see how I recover for tomorrow. In order for Valverde not to be on the podium, a catastrophe must take place. He has an incredible opportunity and just by doing things the right way it’s impossible for him not to reach the podium. The sport of cycling is like this and we will have to take it day by day”, comments Alberto Contador, who received valuable support from a strong Rafal Majka:
“I think we had a good strategy and I stayed in the group with Alberto. This is the last week and I always feel good during the last week of the big Tours. The race is not finished and we still need to fight to make it to the podium. We need to do a hard race for Alberto to make a difference. When we create a hard race, Alberto normally feels good and I think that he was okay after his crash yesterday, so it was not bad but we must fight to open up the podium. Yesterday I didn’t feel well after the crash I had on stage 16 but I was better today and I hope to continue like this”, says Rafal Majka.
Stage 18 from Gap to St-Jean-de-Maurienne presented the riders with 186.5km and seven categorized climbs including the HC summit of Col du Glandon, where Alberto Contador launched an early attack. Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh notes that the squad did a strong effort to support Contador, who was still marked by yesterday’s crash.
“The entire squad did a very good piece of work today. We asked Rafal and Roman to get in the attack and they did exactly that. Rafal did a strong effort in the last part of the stage and he worked hard to support Alberto. We did our best today and Alberto put in a very determined effort. We could see that he was struggling with a bit of pain after his crash yesterday but he had the moral to try a long way from the finish line. He wanted to do something today and we will continue to try here in the Alps”, adds Steven de Jongh.
For Peter Sagan, stage 18 offered a chance to rally up energy after having been constantly active during the previous stages. However, Sagan reveals that he actually attempted to bridge over to the breakaway before settling down.
“I wanted a day of a little more rest but still we did a lot of climbing and gained a lot of altitude meters so it was a very hard day. I actually tried one time today to go in the breakaway but it was too late because the group was too far away already. But after that I was actually happy because I was able to take it a little bit easier. From the first climb to the finish we kept a high tempo and I could feel that I had been in the breakaway for four stages in a row. Today I also got some energy from all these great and crazy Slovakian supporters. Many of them are old friends from my cycling club back home and they are really crazy, which I like and it’s definitely cool to see so many Slovakian flags. But we will see how the next days in the Alps go and how I am in Paris”, finishes Peter Sagan, who still leads the points classification by 104 points.