The Spaniard was recently cleared by his national federation after testing positive for Clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France, although it is thought that the UCI will appeal that verdict to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. In the meantime, Contador is free to compete, and he won the Vuelta a Murcia on his last outing. He is determined to put on another show in front of his home fans in Catalonia.
“I arrive with motivation,” Contador said. “I like to compete, but I haven’t done so since the Vuelta a Murcia 15 days ago. I did some good training, but mainly base training as I was thinking more in the long-term, towards the Giro d’Italia.”
Contador was keen to downplay expectations as to his chances in Catalonia, and pointed out that there will plenty of riders on hand who have more recent racing miles in their legs.
“In this race, there are riders who have trained more than me, people coming from Paris-Nice and above all, people who were competing in Tirreno-Adriatico a few days ago,” he said. “They’re probably a bit ahead of me.”
After struggling against the watch at times in 2010, Contador is determined to return to his time trialling form of two years ago, and he regrets the absence of such a test in the Volta a Catalunya.
“I can make a difference against some riders in that discipline, and it’s always good to get to make adjustments to the time trial bike,” Contador said.
Indeed, the lack of a time trial in the Volta a Catalunya means that it is a difficult race to control. Nonetheless, he will be aiming to be to the fore on the tough summit finish in Andorra on stage 3.
“I don’t know if this is harder [than Murcia], but it is more complicated because the course is too open to attacks,” he said. “The third day is the key stage, but the rest are difficult days too, and there is no time trial. In that sense, the route is not too favourable to me.
“I’ll try on the third day, the stage to Andorra, but I know it’s a race that doesn’t really suit me and there are better prepared riders.”
Contador made his contentious return to racing at the Volta ao Algarve and followed that up with victory in Murcia, but he is aware that he will face a more robust challenge in northeastern Spain.
“The rivals here are Tour de France rivals,” he admitted. “Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso, Denis Menchov, Michele Scarponi, who is becoming very strong, are all coming. They’re going to be tough opponents and this year they’re all coming here after doing some good races.”
After the Volta a Catalunya, Contador will continue his Giro preparation with the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, before tackling the Flèche Wallone, his first race outside of the Iberian peninsula since being cleared by the Spanish federation.
“I want to go because it’s a very nice race, for the fans and because it’s very prestigious,” he said.