CARMAUX, France (VN) — Though he’s battered and bruised, three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador strongly denied reports that he will leave the race early.
Contador has been battling through crashes and knee pain in the first half of the 2011 Tour, but he shot down rumors Tuesday that he plans on packing it in once the Tour turns into the Pyrénées later this week.
“I am going to do everything possible to reach my objective, which is to fight for overall victory in Paris,” Contador said after Tuesday’s stage. “It hasn’t passed through my head to go home. Only when I finish the Tour.”
A series of crashes and setbacks have complicated Contador’s Tour so far. His right knee has been the center of concern. He’s crashed twice on his knee, including his fall Sunday when he collided with Vladimir Karpets (Katusha) and his bike landed on the inside of his right knee.
Saxo Bank-Sungard staff have been treating Contador’s aches and pains. One Spanish newspaper reported that Contador has resorted to acupuncture to help alleviate some of the pain.
Monday’s rest day came at a good time for Contador and he made it through the short but fast stage Tuesday to arrive with the main group into Carmaux. Wednesday’s sprint-friendly stage also gives him a chance to have a relatively easy day in the saddle before turning into the Tour’s first mountain stages.
“People are asking me how I am, something that’s common these days,” Contador said after the stage. “I was able to get through the day and that’s good for my leg because it wasn’t a very demanding stage. Now I am going to recuperate and think about tomorrow. These are the last few days to try to recover because they’re not very hard. I hope to get through it without any troubles and without any pain in the knee.”
Contador said he was caught behind a crash at 14km that took down Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack), Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky), Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek) and Robert Gesink (Rabobank), but he did not fall.
“Almost all the favorites got caught up behind, but no one was worried about it,” Contador continued. “At the beginning of the stage, (my knee) hurt a little bit, but later I felt fine. I had to pay attention at the end of the stage because there were splits on the final climb.”
Come the Pyrénées, Contador is hoping he’ll be the one causing the splits in the peloton. If he can’t, then the rumors of an early exit will likely gain steam again.