Contador won't go down without a fight

Alberto Contador (AFP)
Alberto Contador (AFP)

Gap - Trailing leader Chris Froome by over four minutes has done nothing to quell Alberto Contador's ambition to become the first man in 17 years to complete the Giro d'Italia-Tour de France double.

The Spaniard, bidding to emulate the late Marco Pantani's 1998 double, is currently fifth in the overall standings and trails yellow jersey holder Froome by 4:23 after looking well below his best in the Pyrenees.

"My goal here was nothing else than victory and I won't be content with just a podium finish," the double Tour champion said on Tuesday before embarking on four punishing stages in the Alps.

The Tinkoff-Saxo rider, however, has yet to show he has the legs to catch Froome after an energy-sapping Giro, which he won after a tense battle with Astana riders Mikel Landa of Spain and Fabio Aru of Italy.

Contador is confident he is better than two years ago, when he finished fourth in the Tour won by Froome.

"I was worse in 2013," said Contador.

"I'm getting better. The sensations are better everyday and I'm hugely motivated."

The 32-year-old, who will retire at the end of 2016, has often proved that he should never be written off.

In the 2012 Vuelta, he turned the situation around by breaking away in a middle mountain stage to eventually beat Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez.

Dave Brailsford, Froome's Team Sky manager, knows Contador remains a big threat.

"He's the most successful grand tour rider active right now in the peloton, in terms of wins," he said.

"We won't let our guard down."

Wednesday's 17th stage is a 161-km trek from Digne Les Bains to Pra Loup, with the dangerous descent from the Col d'Allos and the final climb, where in 1975 the great Eddy Merckx cracked under the pressure of Frenchman Bernard Thevenet.

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