While Degenkolb battled the front lines for Trek-Segafredo team, Contador backed off the pace with the rest of the team after entering the three-kilometer safety zone and crossed the finish in 46th place.
After five and a half hours on the bike in extreme heat, his team brought him in safely and as hydrated as possible. With one more flat stage Friday ahead of two crucial mountain stages, the goal is straightforward for Contador.
“The objective is to avoid crashes and to hydrate well because it is very hot,” explained Contador. “Today was almost 230kms with the neutralized section, I think they are more kilometers than necessary, 200km could be good as a limit.
“Yesterday was a difficult day in which I was not particularly well, but I think I overcame it satisfactorily. The stage of Sunday will be totally different. For me, it is the hardest of the whole Tour: many hours of climbing with hard slopes and it’s more about endurance. It suits me better.”