Contador heads cycling's new era

Alberto Contador had a stellar 2008 season and at 25 he knows there is still a lot to accomplish....

Alberto Contador had a stellar 2008 season and at 25 he knows there is still a lot to accomplish. The Spaniard, winner of this year's Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España, indicated his desire to improve in a new era of cycling.

"You think that I can continue to win all the Grand Tours that I dispute? I am young, and I've already accomplished a lot but my motivation is intact. I know that I also have the chance to signal a new period in cycling. To do this will be hard, but just thinking of doing it is an enormous challenge that I like," he said to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

In addition to winning two Grand Tours in 2008, Team Astana's Contador won two stages and the overall of Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, two stages and the overall of País Vasco, and two stages at the Vuelta a España.

Modestly, Contador would not judge himself as the best cyclist of 2008. "But I look at what I did: Giro, Vuelta – ten victories in total. For a rider of my characteristics, with the programme that I had, it was the best possible. I would not change my year with any other rider."

The world first took note of him in 2007 with his overall wins in Paris-Nice and the Tour de France. He is only one of five cyclists – with Belgian Eddy Merckx, Italian Felice Gimondi and Frenchmen Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil – to ever win all three Grand Tours, but he wants to improve in time trailling and the Spring Classics.

"I made the difference because I can recuperate well and because of my mentality. With respect to the other climbers I go well in the crono. However, in the climbs and against the watch I can do better.

"What other races would I like to win? The Flèche Wallonne, climb on the Mur de Huy is so hard. Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the most complicated of the Classics. The Worlds, if they have an edition for climbers like the 1995 edition in Duitama, Colombia."

Contador will focus on the Tour de France in 2009 and he will not race the Giro d'Italia. His new teammate, Lance Armstrong, will represent Astana at the Giro d'Italia.

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