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Contador: I can still win the Tour

Alberto Contador has had to battle a first stage set back and indifferent form on this year's Tour de France.
Alberto Contador has had to battle a first stage set back and indifferent form on this year's Tour de France.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Alberto Contador trailing in seventh place in this year's Tour de France
  • Contador hoping to make up ground on his main rivals in three Alpine stages
  • Contador struggled after a first stage crash as he lost time and injured his knee
  • Thomas Voeckler of France remains the surprise leader in yellow
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(CNN) -- Defending champion Alberto Contador is refusing to write off his victory chances in this year's Tour de France despite trailing surprise leader Thomas Voeckler by four minutes.

Contador has struggled since a crash on the first stage saw him lose valuable time against yellow jersey rivals such as Andy and Frank Schleck and Australia's Cadel Evans.

The Spaniard was expected to make up ground in the Pyrenees, but could not find his usual climbing form, leaving many to question his chances of a fourth victory in cycling's premier race.

But the Saxo Bank star is clinging to the belief that the longer climbs in the Alps, with Wednesday the first of three stages in the range, will offer him a better opportunity.

Contador is eyeing mountain top finishes on the Galibier and Alpe d'Huez to make his move.

We must use all three stages because the time differences are big
--Alberto Contador
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"The Galibier is very hard," he told his official website."If you want to do something you will need to set a good pace from the start of the stage.

"Alpe d'Huez everybody knows, but it is a short stage. We must use all three stages because the time differences are big," he added.

Contador will hope he can claw back time on the six riders ahead of him in the overall classification before the 42.5 km individual time trial in Grenoble which is expected to settle the battle for podium places.

"Without my time loss from the first stage I would be well-placed and I could count on the last time trial to win the Tour," he ruefully admitted.

Of his main rivals, Contador indicated that Evans, who is a strong time triallist, looked to be in the best position, occupying third place behind Voeckler.

"Every day that passes he is moving closer to victory," but added that home hope Voeckler was a "clear candidate" to triumph in Paris after his heroics in the Pyrenees.

Meanwhile, the Schleck brothers refused to reveal which of them will go on a victory charge at the probable expense of the others.

Frank is in second place, one minute 49 seconds behind Voeckler, with his brother Andy, second last year to Contador, in fourth at 2.15.

"If it turns out that one day we have to sacrifice (our chances) for the other we will do it willingly. We are not going to fight each other," Andy told AFP.

"Sometimes it's up to one of us to decide on the day," he added.

"If I get a feeling about something I will make a decision; maybe it will be me, maybe it will be him (Frank)."

The riders had a rest day Monday before the 16th stage from Saint-Paul-Troix- Chateaux to Gap over 162.5km.