Alberto Contador Cautious About Paris-Nice Chances
Defending champ not content with 24-second lead over Valverde.
One year after cracking in the penultimate stage of the Paris-Nice race, Alberto Contador was certainly not celebrating after winning Thursday's queen stage in the 'Race to the Sun.'
The two-time Tour de France champion beat fellow Spaniards Alejandro Valverde and Samuel Sanchez after 173.5 kilometer with a trademark burst on the final ascent, but it was not enough for the Team Astana rider.
"I was feeling good, but not great. I was even not feeling good at the beginning of the climb, I had to make a big effort," Contador commented after the stage finish.
The 27-year-old leads Valverde by 24 seconds in the overall standings with three stages left.
"It even becomes more difficult for me now that I am the overall leader," Contador added.
"My team is strong but Paris-Nice is a tough race to control. You can lose Paris-Nice in every stage."
Last year, Contador also won the queen stage to the Montagne de Lure before cracking in the penultimate stage and finishing a disappointing fourth overall.
"There are still a lot of riders not too far behind me. It is still very open. I had some concerns about my rivals -- I still have them," he said.
Czech Roman Kreuziger of Liquigas was third overall 25 seconds behind, with Spain's Luis Leon Sanchez of the Caisse d'Epargne team in fourth place three seconds further back.
"There are still three tricky stages left. We will have to control them. We must be wary of the Caisse d'Epargne and Liquigas team's collective strength," Astana team manager Yvon Sanquer told Reuters.
"I am also amazed by Jens Voigt (Team Saxo Bank, sixth overall, 34 seconds behind), who is a warrior and who will not let go easily.
"Tonight we are in a good position but we have not won the race", Frenchman Sanquer added.
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