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TOUR DE FRANCE

Alberto Contador shifts focus to other rivals

The tension between the race leader and Astana teammate Lance Armstrong has dissipated, and the Spaniard is concentrating on teams that are intent on taking his lead.

July 21, 2009|Associated Press

The tension with Lance Armstrong is all but gone in the crisp mountain air, and the line of authority is clear. Now, Alberto Contador wants to concentrate on those teams intent on seizing his Tour de France lead.

The Spaniard used Monday's rest day to lay out his plan of attack to keep the yellow jersey he won by capturing the first stage in the Alps a day earlier.

Contador, the 2007 Tour champion, said his lead over other contenders "looks good" so far, but cautioned: "It's not done yet; we still have a hard week left to go."

Armstrong, the seven-time champion, is in second overall -- 1 minute, 37 seconds behind his Astana teammate.

The 37-year-old Texan has conceded that his chances of victory on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Sunday are slim. He pledged to be a faithful support rider for Contador.

"Yesterday, he gave me his support, and I believe him," Contador said at a news conference at a team hotel in the Swiss town of Sion, near the start of today's 16th stage in Martigny.

Contador said his top concern in the punishing final week is Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, a strong climber who is 2:26 behind in fifth place.

Contador knows he'll need to be on guard, and in form.

"You can always have a bad day in cycling, then the others will attack," he said. "But it's my job not to let it happen."

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TODAY'S STAGE 16

Today's stage: The 16th stage is a 99-mile ride in the Alps between Martigny, Switzerland, and Bourg-Saint-Maurice, France. It features two punishing climbs, the Col du Grand Saint-Bernard and the Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard.

OVERALL STANDINGS

1. Alberto Contador, Spain

63:17:56

2. Lance Armstrong, U.S.

1:37 behind

3. Bradley Wiggins, Britain

1:46 behind

4. Andreas Kloeden, Germany

2:17 behind

5. Andy Schleck, Luxembourg

2:26 behind

Destination Bourg Saint-Maurice: This commune in southeastern France is best known for its winter sports resort, Les Arcs. At the foot of mountain passes, this resort is a ski haven in the winter and a wonderful place for outdoor activities in the summer such as biking and hiking. A unique feature in this region is the Isere River that flows through the town. This powerful river facilitated the development of an international watercourse that hosts major water sport events, such as the International Canoe Federation World Championships, and is used by many European teams as a training course in the summer.

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