Spaniard confirms he will ride the Vuelta after the Tour de France
Alberto Contador appeared focused and motivated but also full of doubts as he spoke in Lyon on the eve of the Critérium du Dauphiné, which starts on Sunday with a 10.4km individual time trial.
"I think it's a good course for me," said the Spaniard in comparison with the traditionally fairly long time trial often scheduled in the middle of the week of the French Alpine race. "It will be an opportunity to see how my legs respond. There's a technical part where I'll ride relatively cautiously. It's also new at the Dauphiné to have an uphill finish at the end of stage 2 on Monday. [The col de Béal] is quite hard apparently. There I'll be able to judge the state of my pedaling style after two months without racing. But I believe the race will remain open until the second last day, which will be the real test for me."
"My last race was the Volta al Pais vasco in April, but I've done a solid block of training at the Teide volcano," Contador said. "However, I haven't done intense efforts really. That's to be done at the Dauphiné. This is a race for working hard. It's not a goal or an obsession for me to win this race. I want to conclude it with the satisfaction of a good performance and a good recovery. I want my body to be fine for the Tour."
"I might say the same thing every year, but the Dauphiné is a key race for me ahead of the Tour de France," the leader of Tinkoff-Saxo said. "The confidence I could gain through this race is something relative. Winning or not winning the Dauphiné wouldn't change anything for me. Maybe it would be better to not win as I've never done that before and it could generate some doubts."
Contador acknowledged that he has enjoyed the best early part of a season since he turned pro in 2003. He won Tirreno-Adriatico and the Volta al Pais Vasco and came second at the Volta Algarve and Volta Catalunya.
"I didn't think of that until I read such an analysis somewhere, but it's true," he said. "In terms of efficiency, I've never done so well so far. I've had great opportunities to perform in time trials and mountain stages, and I've seized them thanks to the completely different off-season I've had compared to the three or four previous years. All my life has revolved around my bike with good rest between training and racing."
He explained the length of his break from Pais Vasco to Dauphiné by his summer schedule. "The Tour de France will be decided in the last week, and I'll also ride the Vuelta." So he confirmed his plan to take part in his own national Grand Tour as he had announced in Canada in September last year when he heard that the last stage of the Vuelta would pass through his village in Pinto.
"But I haven't changed my mind about who is the favourite for the Tour de France since I said during the winter that Chris Froome is the reference now," said Contador. "We'll be there with a great motivation and a good team to back my ambitions, but Froome has demonstrated himself as super strong, and he remains the number one favorite."
In an interview with France Television, Contador echoed Froome's assessment about the lack of control at the Teide volcano for Tour de France favourites recently. "It's true that I was there at the same time as Froome and Nibali and I wasn't tested in Tenerife," he said, "but we are controlled all year, and I've been tested quite a lot recently."
He also gave his view on Wiggins' omission on the line-up of Team Sky for the Tour de France. "I was surprised, yes and no," Contador said. "Every team has its own planning, and every team tried to chose the best option for winning. Wiggins has come back to a very good level of racing this year at Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of California, so I understand that it's a good opportunity for Sky to have him taking part in the Vuelta."
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