BOURG-LES-VALENCE (France) (AFP) Alberto Contador admitted to experiencing a tense end to the 11th stage of the Tour de France on Thursday as he fought off an attempt to drop him by yellow jersey rival Andy Schleck. Contador started the 184.5km 11th stage from Sisteron with a 41sec deficit on Schleck, and with no apparent reason to worry. But with 19km remaining Schlecks Saxo Bank team pulled to the front of the peloton in ominous fashion. The Danish outfit upped the pace and, in an area with little protection from the strong crosswinds, they soon had the peloton strung out and many riders in trouble. Gaps began to appear, and while three of Contadors climbing specialist team-mates were left behind in a smaller group, Spains reigning yellow jersey champion looked to be briefly in trouble. Contador was eventually brought back into the safety of the peloton by team-mate Alexandre Vinokourov and took his place close to the yellow jersey of Schleck. It seemed pretty calm, but it turned out there was a lot of wind but we got through it okay, said Contador, who rides for Astana. But the tension was there. Although the Schleck v Contador duel is likely to move up a gear once the race hits the Pyrenees for four stages beginning on Sunday, Saxo Banks bid to drop Contador was not a total surprise. A similar move by the HTC-Columbia team on last years race caused mayhem. Their turn of pace amid strong crosswinds on stage three to La Grande Motte split the race in two, leaving a 28-man group, which included Lance Armstrong but not his then team-mate Contador, to go it alone. Among the main contenders to lose time that day were Schleck, Contador, Cadel Evans and Denis Menchov. That stage also confirmed that Armstrong, who started the 2009 race pledging to help Contador, had personal ambitions of his own. Contador meanwhile has played down his chances of taking time off Schleck at the end of Fridays 210.5km stage to Mende, which ends with a steep 3km ascension of the 'Jalabert climb. He took time off Schleck there at the Paris-Nice stage race in March, but said: It will be a totally different climb, first of all because weve already raced a lot of hard days on the Tour. First we have to see how we are and then what we can do.