Prologue: Evian-les-Bains - individual time trial
Sunday, June 6, 2010 5.43pm
Tour champion looking in excellent form
Two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador gave a glimpse of his form a month before this year's race by winning the opening prologue of the Dauphine Criterium on Sunday.
The 27-year-old Astana rider powered his way over the rolling 6.8 km course in a time of 8min 34sec to beat American Tejay Van Garderen of HTC-Columbia by two seconds.
Van Garderen started 148th and took provisional top spot with a stunning ride over a course described as "difficult" by many riders in the 175-strong peloton.
However Contador, starting second last, signalled his ambitions when he was clocked at four seconds faster than the American just after the halfway mark as rain threatened and the clouds over Lake Geneva began to roll in.
Contador, using a new, more compact time trial bike that he hopes will give him the edge over his yellow jersey rivals during the Tour de France, dug deep in the closing kilometre to pip Van Garderen to what would have been a deserved win.
In third place at 05secs was Slovenian Janez Brajkovic, of RadioShack, with Welshman Geraint Thomas, of Team Sky, in fourth at 10.
The first stage of the one-week race, a key warm-up event for the July 3-25 Tour de France, begins on Monday.
And with the first two days of racing appearing destined for the sprinters or breakaway riders, Contador's team said they won't be going all out to defend his lead just yet.
"On paper the first two stages are destined for the sprinters, so we will just have to see what happens," said Astana team manager Yvon Sanquer.
"But we can't deny this is a really satisfying result for us, and for Alberto. He was really concentrated on this prologue, and his performance simply confirms all the hard work he's put in improving this aspect of his racing."
Contador claimed on Saturday he did not have the race form to be a contender for outright victory in the Dauphine, in which he came third last year, and said he would be using the race above all to test his time trialling.
A far tougher test of his race against the clock will come on stage three's 49km time trial, and from then on the race will just get tougher as it heads up into the Alps.
© AFP 2010
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