Contador - I trust Armstrong
Alberto Contador believes he now has the backing of Astana team-mate Lance Armstrong in his quest for Tour de France glory.
Last Updated: 04/08/09 5:30pm
Alberto Contador believes he now has the backing of Astana team-mate Lance Armstrong in his bid for overall victory at the Tour de France.
Contador claimed the yellow jersey with a devastating attack on the ascent to the Swiss ski resort of Verbier at the conclusion of stage 15.
The Spaniard, champion two years ago, came home 43 seconds clear of Saxo-Bank's Andy Schleck to open a 97-second lead over Armstrong in the general classification.
And Contador feels the American, a seven-time Tour winner, will now support him during the final week.
"(Stage 15) a big step toward final victory," he said.
"I fully trust my team. The riders are very professional. I will finish this race with them without any problems.
"After yesterday's result, everything is much clearer within the team now. (Lance) said yesterday (Sunday) he would back me. I believe him."
Britain's Bradley Wiggins is now up to third place in the overall standings, one minute and 46 seconds behind Contador, who nevertheless feels Luxembourg youngster Schleck poses the greatest threat.
"The strongest is Andy Schleck but I don't fear someone in particular. The dangerous situation is if they all attack together," he continued.
"I must make sure I do everything correctly so that my rivals cannot have a chance."
Schleck, who lies fifth, two minutes and 26 seconds behind Contador, maintains there is still plenty of time to overhaul the race leader and the other podium contenders.
"I was impressed by Contador, I didn't expect him to be so strong," said the 24-year-old.
"We're ready to take all the risks in the third week. I'm sure we can isolate them. The ideal scenario would be to find myself with Contador and (brother and team-mate) Frank in the finale.
"I'm better than Armstrong in the mountains. Verbier was just the last climb, it wasn't much. It will be very different with so many big passes in the next couple of stages.
"To make it to the podium, we must blow Wiggins and Armstrong up and then isolate Contador."
The race resumes on Tuesday with stage 16, the start of a demanding final week that includes two more stages in the Alps as well as a 40.5km time-trial in Annecy and the summit finish of Mont Ventoux on the penultimate day.