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Monday, July 20, 2009
Contador: 'Everything is much clearer'


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 Astana team.

"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."

Alberto Contador
Alberto Contador, relaxing Monday at his hotel, took the Stage 15 win and the yellow jersey Sunday.

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 Monday.

Although he looks set for his second Tour victory after prevailing in 2007, Contador is fully aware his rivals have not capitulated.

"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.