- Tour de France
Contador: I believe in unbeatable Froome
Alberto Contador admitted that Chris Froome was "impossible to beat" in a head-to-head battle in the mountains, but believes the Tour de France leader is riding clean.
Team Sky leader Froome surged clear of Contador during the closing stages of the climb up Mont Ventoux on Sunday - his second mountain stage victory of the race - to extend his yellow jersey lead over the field beyond four minutes.
And the 30-year-old Spaniard, whose climbing prowess was the cornerstone of his 2007 and 2009 Tour de France victories, hit back at those doubting Froome's ability to produce such performances in the mountains without doping.
"There is no reason to doubt Froome," Contador told reporters, before threatening to walk out of the rest-day press conference if questions on doping persisted. ""He is a professional rider who has been performing at a really high level all year, and I think that his results are the fruits of the work he puts in and nothing else.
"I fully believe that he is clean. That is why the doping controls are there, isn't it?"
Contador knows what it is like to face serious suspicion about doping. The Spaniard's 2010 Tour de France victory was annulled after trace amounts of clenbuterol were discovered during the race.
The Saxo-Tinkoff rider has consistently maintained his innocence, blaming a contaminated steak for the failed test. At the end of a protracted court battle, he was retroactively banned for two years in 2012 and stripped of his 2011 Giro d'Italia title in the process.
But Contador sees no need to doubt Froome's performance, even after such a stunning victory on one of the most gruelling stages in Tour de France history.
"There are some times when you are stronger, and some times [when you are] not. I believe in him and am absolutely confident in his performance," Contador added.
"It is true that my objective here was to win, but the leader is on a level above the rest of the people. Face to face, it is impossible to beat him."