Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) says that he is "eager and more motivated than ever" ahead of his season kick-off at the Volta ao Algarve February 17. The Portuguese race will also be the start of his campaign toward his stated season goal: the Tour de France.
Contador said in a team press release Thursday that he was able to train well during the winter, in part, because the temperatures were unseasonably mild in Europe, “something that helped me keep a continuity in my training,” he said. “I also tried to organize my schedule and the non-sport commitments so that I could train."
Aside from training at home, Contador benefitted from two training camps with Tinkoff, the first in December in Gran Canaria and then in January in Tenerife.
“There, we also shared two weeks with Oleg Tinkov,” Contador said. “Similar to last year, we worked together, he trained with us, and we spent good moments. The team worked very well, and I already look forward to starting competing.”
When Contador lines up in Algarve, many riders will have already started their seasons because of January and early-February races like the Tour Down Under, Tour de San Luis, Harold Sun Tour, Dubai Tour and the Tour of Qatar, which will conclude Friday in Doha Corniche.
“Nearly everybody will have already put on a race number on their backs and finished a race,” Contador said. “I'm also eager to start because I enjoy competing as well.”
The Tinkoff press release stated that the Volta ao Algarve will simply be the season starter, and Contador added that the race provides a chance for him to fine-tune his form at the start of his first block of racing without pressure.
“[Volta ao Algarve will give] a sound working foundation, thinking in particular that this start will be very important in a season in which the goal is to reach the Tour de France in good shape.
“This is what I think about, at all times."
Contador said in the team press release that he expects Volta ao Algarve to be a competitive race, more so than in previous years, because there will be 12 WorldTour teams and a tougher parcours.
“It features two summit finishes and, in addition, a time trial that is quite long and flat, being the first one of the season. Nevertheless, it will be interesting for the preparation towards the future goals.”