Alberto Contador has reiterated that he may ride the Giro d’Italia or Vuelta a España instead of the Tour de France in 2013 if his Saxo-Tinkoff team fails to gain WorldTour status and an automatic invitation to the Tour.
Contador said that his preference was to ride the Tour de France, given that he missed it in 2012 while serving suspension for his positive test for clenbuterol during the 2010 edition of the race. However, while RCS will again assign its wildcards for the Giro d’Italia in early January, ASO has refused to reveal when it will decide on its four invitations and Contador admitted that this uncertainty might impact on his programme for 2013.
“We must see all the possibilities and at the moment we are waiting to see if the team will be in the WorldTour or not, because that’s a big difference,” Contador told reporters in Madrid on Thursday at a press conference organised by a watch sponsor.
“My statements have not been at all a way to pressure the Tour, what I said is that we analyze all the possibilities."
"I would like to be there, of course. Last year I couldn’t go and the year before I wasn’t at my best, but this isn’t to put pressure on the Tour. Anybody who knows how preparation works also knows that the programme is important – not just yours, but that of your teammates. You need to know in time so as to be able to give them guarantees. You need a lot of time if you’re going to fight for victory, especially at the Tour.”
Contador said he needs eight weeks to prepare for the French race.
“If you start preparing thoroughly for the Giro and then don’t go there, everything changes, so it is important to know with enough time,” he said.
After attending a recent get together with his 2013 teammates, the Spaniard paid tribute to the signings made by Saxo-Tinkoff in the off-season, which he feels were guided by sporting criteria rather than simply searching for the UCI points necessary to ensure WorldTour status.
“It says a lot about the team, although it is risky,” said Contador, whose own points do not count towards Saxo-Tinkoff’s total given that he only returned from doping suspension in August.
Signings such as Roman Kreuziger and Nicolas Roche mean that Contador does not feel obliged to ride more than one grand tour in 2013.
“All I can say is that I’ll start my season at the Tour de San Luis, but maybe I’ll just ride one grand tour because there are other riders on the team who can at least finish on the podium in the others.”
Contador, who turns 30 next week, has three seasons remaining on his current contract. Although he claimed that he would not “over-extend” his career, he has no precise thoughts on when he might hang up his wheels.
“This is a tough sport, but physically I feel fine, eager, I recover well and I have more strength and am more experienced,” Contador said.