SION, Switzerland -- Alberto Contador said Monday he took a big step toward winning the Tour de France when he
crushed his rivals in Sunday's first Alpine stage and gained the full backing of his
"After yesterday's result, everything is much clearer within
the team now," said Contador, who leads teammate Lance Armstrong by 1 minute, 37 seconds as
the peloton enjoys a rest day in Switzerland. "[Lance] said yesterday he
would back me. I believe him."
The Spaniard not only took the 15th stage win but now has
the overall leader's yellow jersey just one week before the race
concludes at the Champs Elysees.
"[Sunday's stage was] a big step towards final victory," Contador
told a news conference. "I fully trust my team. The riders are very professional. I
will finish this race with them without any problems."
Last week, Armstrong acknowledged there were tensions within Astana because of his rivalry with Contador. But the
seven-time Tour champion said on Sunday he would now be happy
to be the Spaniard's domestique.
"We are ready to sacrifice everything to have Alberto in the
yellow jersey in Paris: the teams standings and Lance's second
place," Astana sports director Alain Gallopin told Reuters on
Although he looks set for his second Tour victory after
prevailing in 2007, Contador is fully aware his rivals have not
"The strongest is Andy Schleck but I don't fear someone in
particular. The dangerous situation is if they all attack
together," he said.
"I must make sure I do everything correctly so that my
rivals cannot have a chance."
Contador, who will race in the Clasica San Sebastian and the
Grand Prix de Plouay in August before ending his season, said
nothing but the color of his jersey would change for the 16th
stage on Tuesday.
"I will have the same attitude. It is just for the
journalists and the fans that it will change," he said.