Tour de France champion Alberto Contador may have given fans a shock when he was kept in check Thursday as the Critérium du Dauphiné soared upwards on the fourth stage to Risoul ski station.
However the Spaniard was given morale support after the race by none other than RadioShack sports director Alain Gallopin.
Ex-Astana man Gallopin has worked with Contador extensively in recent years but at the Dauphine this week he is trying to help young Slovenian ace Janez Brajkovic keep hold of the race leader’s jersey.
On the first of four days in the French Alps Contador stretched his climbing legs late in the 12.8km climb to Risoul, where Frenchman Nicolas Vogondy of Bbox-Bouygues stunned the specialists to claim the stage honours.
On each occasion Brajkovic was up to the task, countering Contador and even finishing just ahead of him at the finish line.
Gallopin, however, believes there’s a lot more to come from the Spaniard.
“Let’s put things in perspective — sticking on Alberto’s wheel when he’s 100 percent is not possible. Today, he wasn’t at 100 percent,” said Gallopin. “Today we didn’t see a fully fit Alberto.”
Team RadioShack has announced its team for the Tour de Suisse (June 12-20).
The team: Lance Armstrong, Andreas Klöden, Levi Leipheimer, Jason McCartney, Dmitriy Muravyev, Yaroslav Popovych, Gregory Rast and Gert Steegmans. Directors: Johan Bruyneel & Viatcheslav Ekimov
Courtesy Agence France Presse
Images courtesy Graham Watson