Slovenia's Janez Brajkovic was told not to get his Tour de France hopes too high Sunday despite securing his biggest ever stage race win at the Criterium du Dauphine.
Brajkovic, who races for Lance Armstrong's RadioShack team, finished the week-long race with a lead of 1min 41sec on two-time Tour de France champion Contador.
But although the 26-year-old Slovenian dominated the third stage time trial and countered Contador numerous times on the stage six climb to Alpe d'Huez, his team sports director Alain Gallopin urged caution.
In a normal season professional cyclists have few fitness peaks and need several weeks of rest before embarking on another hard stage race.
Despite suggestions that Brajkovic could be a key helper for Armstrong in the mountains of the July 3-25 Tour de France, Gallopin warned that the young Slovenian's busy season so far could go against him.
"Right now, it's 50-50," said Gallopin, who will consult with RadioShack team manager Johan Bruyneel this week after the Tour of Switzerland where Armstrong and many other of the team's top riders are racing.
"We can't forget that Janez has raced a lot this season and was on peak form for the Dauphine. Whatever the decision on his Tour de France selection, he needs rest first and foremost, and a decision will only be made after the Tour of Switzerland."
Ironically, Brajkovic said that learning to rest more and better has been a key factor in his renaissance this season, which has seen him claim a number of top ten places in one-week stage races.
"I've had a lot of bad luck in the past but there's a reason I'm more constant this year. I've learned to rest more than I used to, and that means I'm coming to races a lot fresher," he said.
Astana rider Contador won the opening prologue last Sunday and held the race lead until stage three on Wednesday when Brajkovic triumphed in a 49km time trial to take the race lead and leave the Spaniard 1:45 in his wake.
Brajkovic went on to defend his lead over four days in the mountains, notably resisting a series of attacks by Contador on Saturday's stage which took in the Col du Glandon and finished on the summit of Alpe d'Huez.
© AFP 2010