Alberto Contador is getting ready for his first race of the season, the Volta ao Algarve, and is downplaying his chances of repeating his overall victory in the Portuguese race from last year.
The Astana leader knows his rivals will keep a closer eye on him and he, “will not get the same opportunities as in 2009.” In addition, last year he came directly to the race after a training camp in California. “This year, however, there has been very bad weather in Madrid and I have not trained as I would have liked.”
“Anyway, this is the first race of the year, and we should not give it too much importance.”
The Tour de France winner is still looking forward to the race, though. “I am a rider who likes to compete and that's what motivates me. I think I come with a good level, but not with that of 2009, when I won.”
His main goal, he said, was not to win but to prepare for future racing. “I'm fine, but what I want is to have good preparation for Paris-Nice, which I want to contest.”
Wednesday's start will be his first UCI-ranked race since the Tour de France last summer, making this the longest he has ever voluntarily not raced. Starting up again, “is a handicap, because you lack a bit. It's not as if you had finished the season after the Worlds,” Contador said.
“You must train hard to reach the same point, although it has its positive side. In the long term, the body will appreciate this rest.”
Contador is not one to rest on his laurels, and looks to keep on getting better. “I think I can improve in both mountain and time trials. I'm doing some tests and the results are even better than last year. I hope that it works out in competition.”