Alberto Contador(Tinkoff) has confirmed he will target overall victory in the Vuelta a Espana as he looks to bounce back from quitting the Tour de France due to the injuries he sustained in two early crashes.
The Spaniard has won the Vuelta a Espana three times during his long career, each time after a low point in his career. In 2008 his then Astana team was stopped from riding the Tour de France, in 2012 he won after completing his ban for testing positive for Clenbuterol, while in 2014 he again bounced back after suffering a hairline fracture in his tibia at the Tour.
This year Contador crashed twice in the opening stages of the Tour and was never at his best, eventually throwing in the towel during stage nine. He opted to miss the Olympic road race to prepare for the Vuelta a Espana and rode the Clasica San Sebastian and the Vuelta a Burgos to test his recovery and form. His narrow victory in Burgos convinced him he could target overall success in his home Grand Tour.
"My goal at the Vuelta is to fight for victory," he said in a statement from the Tinkoff team.
"That's the idea with which I am going to Galicia, we will then see if we can achieve it, because I will have to face very strong opponents with powerful squads. We will have to take it day-by-day and I just hope I'm a little bit luckier to enjoy the race and the fans. At the Vuelta, the affection of the public has always been amazing and reliving that is something I look forward to. Furthermore, this will be my last Grand Tour with Tinkoff and I would like to finish it in the best way."
Contador is expected to ride for Trek-Segafredo in 2017 after agreeing a deal with the USA-registered WorldTour team during the Tour de France.
After completing a block of training at home in Lugano, Switzerland, Contador insisted he is motivated for the Vuelta despite the problems and abandon at the Tour still playing on his mind.
"I think I'm (going) well, but the good thing is that I am keen to go on the bike, which is important," he said. "I haven't had many tests to see how I am, practically only in Burgos. From there I focused on recovering from the effort and doing some quality training, but that race is very different from the Vuelta, in terms of days of competition and the level of its line-up.
"That [quitting the Tour de France] really comes often back to my head and is hard to beat psychologically. On the other hand, physically it has also been difficult because at first I could not train and that forced me to look a lot after my nutrition, taking into consideration how hard it is to immediately change your mind-set when you come from a period of racing."
Some dangerous rivals but not a matter of revenge
Contador will face some serious competition as he tries to win a fourth Vuelta a Espana. Movistar has confirmed that both Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde will ride, with Chris Froome and Mikel Landa leading Team Sky. The likes of Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Esteban Chaves (Orica-Bike Exchange) are all targeting the Vuelta after missing the Tour de France.
"The level is very high, because in the end, each year the favourites of the Tour are in the Vuelta and that makes me happy. This marquee line-up will raise great expectations," Contador said, while insisting he was not looking for revenge after his difficult Tour de France.
"No, it's not a matter of revenge, the Vuelta is another race that starts from scratch and I just hope to start on a better footing than the Tour.
"We will have a Tinkoff squad, very balanced between youth and experience, with many riders that already know what it means to race at the Vuelta a España. There are very good riders for the team time trial and the climbs, but the best part is that they are all very motivated to race at the Vuelta and that's fundamental."
The full Tinkoff line-up for the Vuelta a España will be announced on Wednesday. The race gets underway with a team time trial in Galicia on Saturday.
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