Alexa

Contador worried by knee at Tour de France

Contador worried by knee at Tour de France

Defending Tour de France champion Alberto Contador is worried his injured right knee won't heal before the race reaches the Pyrenees on Thursday.
The three-time Tour champion tumbled off his bike during Sunday's ninth stage after his handlebars became tangled with Vladimir Karpets' bike, damaging the same knee he hurt earlier in the race.
Contador, who is in 16th place overall, trained with his teammates on Monday morning and said he will only be able to asses his condition when the race resumes Tuesday.
"I'm a bit worried because with a knee injury you can't ride with the same rhythm and the same frequency of pedaling as usual," Contador told a packed news conference at his hotel.
The Spaniard said he damaged "the internal part" of his knee and is suffering badly from inflammation.
"I want to remain optimistic it will get better before the first Pyrenean stage, but I have no idea how the knee will respond," he said. "We'll have the first indication tomorrow."
Tuesday's stage will take the peloton from Aurillac to Carmaux on a 158-kilometer (98-mile) hilly trek.
The 28-year-old Contador seems dogged by bad luck in the race. He lost more than a minute during the first stage after being slowed by a crash that split the pack in two, and was lucky to escape with only cuts and bruises following a fall in the fifth stage.
"Maybe I'm getting old," Contador joked. "No, seriously, it's just bad circumstances and there is nothing you can do about it."
Contador tested positive for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour and could be stripped of all his titles won since last July if the Court of Arbitration for Sport rules against him next month.
He is one of only five riders to have won all three of the sport's premier races or Grand Tours _ the Tour, Giro d'Italia and the Spanish Vuelta _ but said his victory at the Giro in May could hamper his chances in the Tour.
"That's true that I'm not as fresh as the previous years," Contador said. "But I don't want to use this as an excuse."
Contador trails leader Thomas Voeckler of France by 4 minutes and 7 seconds and lags behind his main rivals. The Schleck brothers, Frank and Andy, are fourth and fifth, trailing by 2:29 and 2:37 respectively. Cadel Evans is third, 2:26 off the pace.
Saxo Bank manager Bjarne Riis, however, remains confident Contador can win the race a fourth time, a feat that would give him his seventh Grand Tour victory, tying him with Lance Armstrong, Miguel Indurain and Fausto Coppi.
"I'm sure Alberto is frustrated because he is not used to crash," Riis said. "But we are still here to try to win the Tour de France. We are ready to fight."
Asked about the time gap he has to overcome to triumph in Paris, Contador said he still has time and won't necessarily attack in the Pyrenees or the Alps.
"There is a time trial in the penultimate stage and I can gain some time there," Contador said. "And there are other riders who need to attack if they want to win the Tour. The Schleck brothers need to take time from Cadel Evans in the mountains, because he is a very good time trialist. I just need to look after my knee and I'll attack when I have an opening."