Alberto Contador opened his 2016 account as he soloed to the stage win atop the Alto do Malhao on the final stage of the Volta ao Algarve. Contador's first win since the 2016 Route de Sud saw the 33-year-old move up to third place overall having started the day in 20th place in what was his first race of the season.
"I knew I was coming to Portugal in good form," said Contador who won the overall in 2009 and 2010. "I hadn't raced since a number of months and on the second stage, I probably lacked a bit of energy in the final part, that's why I lost more time than I would have lost under normal conditions. For that reason, for me, today was an important day.
"I had the legs and I was feeling I could win. That's why the squad worked together with Movistar and we clinched the win."
Contador saw his overall hopes evaporate on the stage 2 climb to Alto da Foia as he finished 24 seconds down on stage winner Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) who then crashed out of the race the following day in the 18km Sagres time trial. Having not raced since the 2015 Tour de France, Contador added that he found his racing legs the longer the Volta ao Algarve went and thanked the Tinkoff team for supporting his throughout the five days.
"I'd also like to thank the whole team for their hard work at the Volta ao Algarve, some days with no payout, but today we topped it off and grabbed the victory. I'm happy I stepped on the podium and as I said, the last time I raced was at the Tour de France last year, so it's always encouraging to debut with a victory," he added.
"I'm very happy with this victory and I'd like to dedicate it to Oleg Tinkov and Tinkoff Bank for their backing and the trust they have shown through their sponsorship during the last four years. It's, obviously, easier to win when you have that kind of support. We will keep fighting, with our sights always set on the big goal of the year, the Tour de France."
The next race on the agenda for Contador is Paris-Nice where he has twice tasted overall success, in 2007 and 2010, going on to claim Tour de France success in July, although he would eventually lose his 2010 title in the courts. With 2016 set to be the last season of his professional career, Contador is building his season around winning the Tour de France in July and an Olympic medal in August and will aim to continue on his results from the Algarve in France early-next month.
"My next goal is Paris-Nice, a race in which I last competed in 2010. I'll be back this year and I hope I'll be able to obtain a good result," explained Contador who will follow the 'race to the sun' with Volta a Catalonia, Pais Vasco, and Criterium du Dauphine.