After an mixed first seven days of the Vuelta, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) says that he is still banking on the third week to show his top condition. The Spaniard performed well on Arrate and Ezcaray, attacking no less than seven times on the Basque climb, but lost out on the Fuerte del Rapitan on Thursday.
“I’m looking at the third week to be at my strongest,” Contador said after stage seven. “I haven’t reached my best form yet. I’ve no idea if those cramps I had are a sign of worse times to come, I’ll just have to stay focused.”
Contador said he had noticed that this had been an exceptionally tough first week of the race, “with really hot weather and average speeds of 44 or 45 kmh. And [Chris] Froome is a very tough rival, he was arguably the strongest in the Tour and he’s got a great team. He’s going to be difficult to beat.”
Asked about the Lance Armstrong case and if he could understand why the American had suddenly thrown in the towel, Contador gave a cagey answer, saying, “I’m not really fully informed about what’s happened and I don’t know what the situation is like. I’ll have to wait a bit to be able to give an opinion.” Contador then changed the subject completely and thanked the Spanish public for supporting him during the race.
As for his first week in general and how he’d rate his performance if it was an exam, Contador said, “I’d give myself a pass. I was very pleased with Ezcaray, and if I lost a bit of time yesterday it was maybe partly because of dehydration and partly because it was such a steep, explosive finish. I’m a bit a ring-rusty, so I can be pleased.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s climb of Collado de la Gallina, Contador said “I’ve been to see it, and it’s the most serious climb we’ll have had to face so far. It’s not such a difficult stage in general, but maybe we’ll start to see some important developments.”
“Rather than being scared of any of my rivals, I respect them. But the important thing is what I do, not what they do.”