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Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff).
Saxo Bank to increase its backing?
Alberto Contador and Saxo Bank manager Bjarne Riis will hold a press conference in Madrid on Thursday afternoon to reveal how the team will compensate for the loss of co-sponsor Tinkoff Bank, but the Spaniard is already thinking ahead to his racing programme for 2014.
“Next year, I want to do a complete season, like in the past,” Contador told L’Équipe in Paris on Wednesday, where he participated in a leisure ride at the Longchamp race track organised by Saxo Bank. “I’m going to select my [early] races well. Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico and then, perhaps, Catalunya, Romandie or the Basque Country.”
As in 2013, Contador will ride the Critérium du Dauphiné as his final preparation for the Tour de France and he stressed the importance of obtaining some morale-boosting wins before lining up to face Chris Froome et al in July. Contador’s only victory of the past campaign came on a stage of the Tour de San Luis in January.
“I want to finish [my preparation] at the Dauphiné in order to get to a good level. Having a good start to the season and getting good results is the best preparation for the Tour de France. The most important thing for me is to start it in top condition.”
Contador and Riis have been on a whistle-stop tour of Europe this week on behalf of Saxo Bank, making appearances in Monza, Zurich and Paris. On Thursday, the pair will be in Madrid, where they will hold a press conference regarding their team’s future.
According to a report in Gazzetta dello Sport, Riis will announce an extension of Saxo Bank’s deal to sponsor his team, as well as an increase on its current financial commitment that will cover the gap in the budget left following the parting of the ways between Riis and Oleg Tinkov.
Speaking to Cyclingnews at Il Lombardia, Riis dismissed reports in the Danish media that Saxo riders – including Contador – were facing pay-cuts for 2014.
Meanwhile, Gazzetta also reports there is no possibility of Rafal Majka and Roman Kreuziger leaving Saxo Bank, in spite of Tinkov’s apparent desire to bring them to his new team, believed to be Cannondale.