As he gears up for the world championships and the Tour of Lombardy, his last challenges of 2013, Alberto Contador’s planned race schedule for 2014 is already well on track.
In an interview on Monday with Spanish sports daily AS, the Saxo-Tinkoff team leader said he will take part in the Vuelta a España - as he had strongly hinted in a Tweet last week when the race went through his home town, Pinto - but that rather than start racing in January as he did in 2013, a much later start to his season is on the cards.
“I will begin racing much later,” Contador told AS, “so I can get started at a good level and on routes which are favourable to get in some early wins.”
Asked if the year’s objectives are the Tour and the Vuelta, Contador replied simply, “Yes. I’ve already said I will race the Vuelta and unless something exceptional happens, I’ll be there.
“But I want to see what the route is like, too. So many summit finishes may add to the sense of spectacle, but for those taking part it’s a bit stressful.”
Contador already has two Vuelta victories in his palmares, in 2008 and 2012. This year he rode one Grand Tour, the Tour de France, finishing fourth in Paris and narrowly missing out on the uphill time trial at Embrun.
With just one victory to his name this year, a stage win in the Tour of San Luis, Contador recognises that he has “hit the goalposts” as he put it, very often in 2013. “I’ve worked really hard, but the results....” he said. “I’ve hit the posts a lot of times. And what people want is to see me win. I know that, and I accept that.”
At the world championships, though, he will likely have a support role. Contador is not taking part in the Worlds time trial - in which he performed poorly last year - and instead is set to support Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde in their bid for Spain’s first Worlds men’s road race gold since 2004.