Alberto Contador has announced that he will ride this year's Vuelta a España, The two-time champion released a surprise video message confirming that he would be on the start line of the Vuelta a España on August 23 in Jerez de le Frontera.
"I've been riding my bike for last ten days, and yesterday was the first day I could climb a mountain pass without knee pain, and that excites me, motivates me and led me to take the decision that I will ride the Tour of Spain," Contador said in the video.
The Tinkoff-Saxo rider admits that he is unlikely to be a genuine contender for the overall classification, but that isn't going to hold him back.
"I know it's a Vuelta a España that I'll have to take in a very different way than I had thought earlier in the season, or as I planned the Tour. I think it can be very good for me, thinking about the end of the season and either to start next year with guaranties, and perhaps in the last week I could be fighting for a stage win," he said.
"Thanks to the work of the specialists who have treated me I could recover in record time. Am deeply grateful to them all," said Contador. "Now I'll try to do my best in this last week until the start, see you all in Jerez."
In the video shot at his home in Lugano. Switzerland, Contador can be seen wearing a bandage around his knee and leg just below it. Exactly a month ago, on the 10th stage of the Tour de France, Contador crashed at 70km/h on a wet descent as he tried to move up in the peloton.
The Spaniard tried to continue the stage after changing his bike and a shoe but eventually climbed off. X-rays revealed that he had fractured his tibia.
In the initial aftermath of his Tour de France abandon, Contador said he hoped to ride the Vuelta a Espana. However his presence in the race seemed unlikely in when the wound around his injury didn’t heal as quickly as expected. In late July, the 31-year-old said that he would not ride the third Grand Tour of the year.
Contador’s wound was reopened a week after the accident and a deep clean was done of the area to remove some of the debris that remained. Contador has also been undergoing physiotherapy to help him recovery as quickly as possible so he can ride the three-week Vuelta a Espana.
Chasing UCI WorldTour points?
According to reports in Gazzetta dello Sport, Contador's decision to ride the Vuelta a Espana could be linked to Oleg Tinkov's desire to see his Tinkoff-Saxo team end the 2014 season as the world's number one ranked team. It would also give him the form to be competitive at the world road race championships in Ponferrada, giving a much needed boost to the Spanish organizers.
Contador is currently second in the individual WorldTour rankings and Tinkoff-Saxo is third in the team ranking, a significant 257 points behind leaders Movistar. Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde are expected to collect a haul of points at the Vuelta but Contador could also chase points at Il Lombardia and the Tour of Beijing.
Contador had always been on the Tinkoff-Saxo entry list of riders for the Vuelta. Also expected to ride the third Grand Tour of the season are Jesus Hernandez, Daniele Bennati, recent Tour of Denmark winner Michael Valgren, Matti Breschel and Nicki Sorensen.
The Vuelta a España begins on Saturday August 23 with a team time trial around Jerez de la Frontera in the south of Spain.