Alberto Contador may have been pipped to the overall win on the final day, but Tinkoff-Saxo insist the race was all about preparation than success. And on that front, El Pistolero ought to come away from the Dauphine a very happy man indeed.
A strong time trial effort, bettered only by Chris Froome, was then followed by second place on stage two. The only rider capable of keeping tabs with Froome as he lit up the stage’s final climb, Contador came away beaten but in great shape.
And so it proved, the Spaniard attacking with fervour in the following stages to eventually take the maillot jaune with a well-timed attack on the penultimate day. He could not hold it, beaten by Andrew Talansky when perhaps he was guilty of marking the wrong man – Froome – but again, Contador climbed well to reclaim his world number one spot and ensure he enters the Tour de France as the form-man.
His team-mates too, looked good. Sergio Paulinho’s efforts in the break – ensuring Contador had a man up the road – showed his legs, while Roman Kreuziger is honing his training at the Tour de Suisse and Michael Rogers and Nico Roche are enjoying well-earned post-Giro rests.
“Dauphiné is an important race and I wanted to perform here,” Contador said. “But the main ambition is to build race shape ahead of the Tour. So it wasn’t crucial to get a top spot here, as long as I improved my form going in to the Tour.”
Form is certainly not something El Pistolero is short of.