Contador Beats Schleck and Reclaims Paris-Nice Race Lead
Team Astana's Alberto Contador took his fourth victory of the season by winning the Queen Stage in Paris-Nice, a 182 km long stage with a first-time-ever finish on Montagne de Lure, a climb of 13 kilometers. After a solo effort at 6 kilometers, he arrived as the stage winner atop the ski station. Fränk Schleck and Luis León Sánchez came in 58 seconds later. Former yellow jersey Sylvain Chavanel lost almost two minutes. With two days of racing remaining, Alberto Contador leads the general classification now by 1.13 to Sanchez and 1.24 to Chavanel.
"This was the stage where you could theoretically make the maximum gaps. I succeeded, but it was harder than expected,” explained Contador. “The climb was not so steep but long and especially very windy. Everybody at the finish was exhausted. I’m glad that I could beat all of the other favorites and it looks good for the final victory but there are still two hard stages. Schleck, Samuel and Luis León Sanchez and Toni Colom are still dangerous. Our team will have to control, but they are ready for it.”
Team Astana riders rode well today as they took the responsibility for the race lead early in the stage, putting Benjamín Noval, Michael Schär, Haimar Zubeldia, Alexandr Dyachenko, Dani Navarro and Sergio Paulinho all in charge of pace-making and protecting ?ontador until the final climb, when Yaroslav Popovych stayed with him until his work was finished.
“There was criticism on our Team after the echelon stage to Vichy, that I was left alone in the final section but the teammates all worked so hard the hours before. Believe me. They are ready for the next two days," concluded a confident Contador.