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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
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Alberto Contador is all smiles before Tirreno-Adriatico.
Spaniard looking for more wins in 2014
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) enters Tirreno Adriatico, where he finished third overall last year and won the points classification, with one win to his name in 2014 and will hope to end the 'race of the two seas' having fired off a few more 'pistol' celebrations.
Contador told Cyclingnews in February that he wants more wins this year having only won a single stage last season. While the five-time grand tour winner was second overall at the Volta ao Algarve, a race he won overall in 2009 and 2010, it is the Italian stage race that Contador was the hungrier for, stating that "If you asked me which one I preferred to win, I would have to say Tirreno-Adriatico, because it's not in my palmarès yet."
At the pre-race press conference that was attended by GC rivals Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Cadel Evans (BMC) and former teammate Richie Porte (Sky), Contador told the press that he is ready and confident. There is certain to be a new winner of the race as two-time defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is racing Paris-Nice this year although there are stil lseveral Grand Tour contenders packing the start list.
"[I'm] in a good moment. I could work calmly this winter in a different way and even with few days of competition, I hope to adapt myself and have a good performance."
The race opens with an 18.5 km team time trial from Donoratico to San Vincenzo and as Contador explained in the press conference he'll take the race "day by day to finally see what happens."
"Tirreno-Adriatico’s overall use to be defined by a short time. Bonuses have an important role and we have to try to go day by day to finish as far forward as possible. We will see at the end of the week where we stand".
Tirreno is the first of three stage races or Contador in preparation of his season aim, the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana. "It is [Tirreno] a very big race, I knew it last year and I liked it so much. It will be the first of three races that I 'm going to do now, before Catalunya and Basque Country, and I want to be at a high level. For me all the races are important and one with the prestige of Tirreno-Adriatico, too."
Despite suggestions of disharmony at Tinkoff-Saxo and talk of joining friend Fernando Alonso next year at the yet unnamed team, Contador is enjoying racing with his teammates and is confident they can help deliver him to the win.
"I'm really happy, it's a very strong team and I think we have riders to be well in all terrains, also to do a good team time trial. I have full confidence in my teammates."