Less than 24 hours after making his season and race debut in the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta del Sol, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) has already netted the overall lead. But the Spanish stage racer, fourth on the stage and now eight seconds ahead of arch-rival Chris Froome (Sky) is unwilling to read too much into his good start to his first race of 2015.
“This has just started and there’s a lot of racing left to go, being leader is merely symbolic,” Contador said after receiving the red jersey of race leader. “It seems red” - the same colour as for the leader in the Vuelta a España - “brings me luck,” he added with a smile.
“I’m very happy, but you can’t take things out of their context because this was a very short time trial, although obviously I’m happier to be ahead rather than behind. “
Racing in his first time trial of the season, Contador said “It was a very short stage with lots of changes of pace and twists and turns and you had to sprint after each corner. But I felt very good.”
The one moment where things could have turned seriously awry came when he hit a speed bump a little too fast and ‘flew’ a little as a result. “It was higher than I had calculated. After that scare, it all went fine. You had to be careful not to crash, though, because there was a lot of sand on some of the corners.”
The next big challenge in Andalucia wil be the two tough mountain stages on Friday and Saturday. Contador has tackled the stage 3 first category summit finish of Hazallanas in training, but does not have any prior experience of Saturday’s final ascent, the Alto de Allanadas. “They are two ascents which will be very difficult for this time of season, and which will create big gaps time-wise.”
Regarding Froome, Contador was predictably non-commital, arguing “you can’t draw too many conclusions, I’m just pleased I’ve made a good start myself. Regardless of what the other rivals have done, I’m happy with this result.”
Contador was also pleased that he missed out, albeit by very little, in the big crash of the morning sector, pointing out that it proved “even the most insignificant stage can destroy all your preparation [for a season].”
“It was very windy, there was a lot of tension and everybody wanted to be ahead. It happened to one side of me, I was about fifth or sixth back and the second rider was the one who got tangled up [and crashed] and I was nearly caught out. This time, luckily, I was ok.” And a few hours after that near-miss, the Tinkoff-Saxo rider was in the leader’s jersey.