Gap, France: Alberto Contador sent a warning to his rivals with repeated stinging attacks in the 16th stage of the Tour de France won by Norway`s Thor Hushovd on Tuesday.
Two days before a gruelling stage to the Col du Galibier, the three-times champion attacked the peloton in the category-two Col de Manse with only Australian Cadel Evans and Spain`s Samuel Sanchez able to follow his pace.
Contador and Sanchez were dropped on the descent by Evans, who crossed the line three seconds ahead of the Spanish duo.
France`s Thomas Voeckler retained the overall leader`s yellow jersey as he finished 4:44 adrift of Hushovd and 21 seconds behind Evans with a small group containing Frank Schleck.
"When he (Contador) attacks, it’s a bit scary," said Voeckler.
Luxembourg`s Andy Schleck struggled in the tricky descent and lost 1:09 to Evans, who is now second overall 1:45 behind Voeckler.
Frank Schleck is third, four seconds further back, while Contador moved up to sixth -- 3:42 off the pace and 39 seconds behind fifth-placed Andy Schleck.
Contador, who lost crucial time in the first stage after being held up behind a pile-up and struggled in the first mountain stage, was back to his old brilliant self as his repeated attacks dropped the Schleck brothers and Ivan Basso, who is now seventh overall.
At the front of the race, Canadian Ryder Hesjedal jumped away from a group of breakaway riders in the Col de Manse, but was reeled in by Evald Boasson Hagen and Hushovd just before the descent.
The world champion was too strong in the final stretch and easily outsprinted Boasson Hagen for his second individual stage win of the Tour.
We're building him (RvP) up now because of the World Cup. It’s a pity but we have to or he’ll never be fit.
Louis van Gaal