Tour de France: Alberto Contador wins stage 14

Sunday, July 22, 2007

File:060405 contador.jpg

Alberto Contador climbing during the 2006 Vuelta al País Vasco.
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

Alberto Contador of Spain has won stage 14 of the 2007 Tour de France. Michael Rasmussen of Denmark came in second and extended his overall lead by 2' 04' over Cadel Evans of Australia. Contador moves into second ahead of Evans and 2' 23" behind Rasmussen.

Contador and Rasmussen had an animated discussion about how to share the workload up the final climb. Contador was happy to sit behind the yellow jersey-wearing Rasmussen, and pass him in the final sprint for the finish-line. The Dane had hoped for more help in setting the pace and extending his overall lead.

The winner of yesterday's time trial, Alexandre Vinokourov, did not have a good day. Andreas Klöden will likely now be the leader for Astana Team.

Stage 14 profile

This stage took the race into the Pyrenees. This stage starts with a category 2 climb out of Mazamet and then follows a relatively calm route via Carcassonne, Limoux and Quillan before taking on the Port de Pailhères (17 km at 7.2%) and a very difficult finish at Plateau-de-Beille (16 km at 7.9%).

Tomorrow's 196 km stage should be one of the major stages of the Tour, with no fewer than five major mountain passes - including the Col de Port, the Col de Portet d'Aspet (5.7 km climb at 6.9%), the Col de Menté (7.0 km climb at 8.1%), the Port de Balès (19.5 km at 6.2%), (the first time this climb has featured in the Tour), and finally the Col de Peyresourde (9.7 km climb at 7.8%) with a downhill finish in Loudenvielle. This exhausting stage will be followed by a day of rest.

Post-race statements

This was a really important stage today but there are still three very important stages to come and I have to be good in each one of them if I want to win the Tour de France. I could yet have a bad day in the final and the overall champion of the race cannot afford to falter at any time. I’m aware that it’s possible for me to have a bad day, but that can happen to Rasmussen too. At the moment, however, he’s the leader and he continues to demonstrate that he’s really strong.

Today I have made time gains on Cadel Evans. Now I have to attack Rasmussen and I will try to do just that. My team decided to take its responsibility just like what Saunier Duval tried to do [in the lead-up to the first mountain pass] but it didn’t work out for them. We sent Hincapie and Popovych to the front leading to the final climb to take charge and then I chose the moment to attack when my legs were good

— Alberto Cantador, Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
That is probably the most difficult climb and stage finish of the entire race. The Tour has been up here a few times before and the likes of Pantani and Armstrong have won here so it would have been nice to put my name to that list but I didn’t succeed in that but it was a good victory for Alberto. I’m still happy, however, with the outcome of today.

My team was riding very strongly today, that’s for sure. I was trying to hold them back a little bit because we still have more than 400 kilometers of riding in the Pyrenees ahead of us and the battle is far from over. I didn’t want them to ride too hard but it was difficult to hold them back today. I got to a point where I realized, ‘Okay, I might not win the stage but I will be able to thin out the field of rivals quite significantly.’ So I worked all the way to the line and, obviously, Contador had the better position for the sprint. But it’s not over with you, there’s a long way to go and, with the time trial on the final Saturday, I think we need to accept that a lot can change. Anyone within six or seven minutes of me can win at this point

— Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank

Stage 14 results

Rank Rider Team Time
1 Alberto Contador Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 5h 25'48"
2 Michael Rasmussen Rabobank s.t."
3 Mauricio Soler Barloworld +37"
4 Levi Leipheimer Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team +40"
5 Carlos Sastre Team CSC +53"
6 Andreas Klöden Astana Team +1'52"
7 Cadel Evans Predictor-Lotto s.t."
8 Antonio Colom Astana Team +2'23"
9 Andrey Kashechkin Astana Team s.t."
10 Yaroslav Popovych Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team +3'06"
Rank Rider Team Time
1 Michael Rasmussen Rabobank 64h 12' 15"
2 Alberto Contador Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team +2' 23"
3 Cadel Evans Predictor-Lotto +3' 04"
4 Levi Leipheimer Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team +4' 29"
5 Andreas Klöden Astana Team +4' 38"
6 Carlos Sastre Team CSC +5' 50"
7 Andrey Kashechkin Astana Team +6' 58"
8 Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel-Euskadi +8' 25"
9 Alejandro Valverde Caisse d'Epargne +9' 45"
10 Yaroslav Popovych Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team +10' 55"