LAVAUR, France — Defending Tour de France Alberto Contador wants to show his rivals he is still the world's best climber when the race hits the Pyrenees on Thursday. It just depends whether his troublesome right knee lets him.
The three-time champion has been bugged by a swelling in his right knee since he crashed on last week's fifth stage, and he banged the same knee again when falling of his bike on stage 9 last Sunday.
With two mammoth climbs up the Col du Tourmalet and an uphill finish to Luz-Ardiden awaiting him on Thursday's 12th stage, the Spaniard feels quietly confident his body will not let him down.
It had better not, otherwise Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans, his main Tour rivals, will not hesitate to try to knock him out of contention.
Cruel, but that's the Tour. After all, Contador did not wait around when Schleck's chain came off last year.
"My knee is responding well so I'm obviously very happy," Contador said Wednesday's 11th stage. "But keep in mind that I didn't climb the Tourmalet today. I have to see how it responds and on that basis I will make a decision how to do the race on the last climb tomorrow."
British sprinter Mark Cavendish won Wednesday's 11th stage with a blistering late attack to clinch his third Tour stage win of the race, and Frenchman Thomas Voeckler kept hold of the race leader's yellow jersey for another day.