On Monday, Astana's Alberto Contador will begin the Vuelta al País Vasco, his last race of the first part of the 2009 season, after which he will take a break from competition while continuing to prepare for the Tour de France. The País Vasco comes after Contador made his debut at the Tour of Algarve also raced in Paris - Nice and at the Castilla y León.
Contador is looking forward to racing the País Vasco. "It is a tour that I like very much. I have been racing here for several years, and I've had very good experiences, so this year I hope to feel just as good. The Basque fans are incredible, it's a pleasure to race here."
"I've been training well, although already I notice the fatigue of so much effort. I do not recover as well, so I'm wondering how I will feel on the final day's day time trial. It is a bit of a mystery."
Contador called the stages in this year's edition "complicated". "The first one has a finish climb where it will be necessary to be attentive, but I believe that the race will be decided between Arrate and the last day's time trial."
The Spaniard isn't too worried about the outcome. "We will see how this race goes day by day. The important thing is that I finish with the peace of mind of knowing I have done well with the beginning of the season. My real aim is in July."
"There is a great group of racers participating this year, both Spanish and foreigners. The majority are strong because they are prepared for the Classic or they are preparing for the Giro d'Italia," said Contador. "Among all, I'm highlighting Samuel Sanchez, Antonio Colom or Luis León Sanchez. And then there are the brothers Schleck, who want to be at 100 percent in the Classics, or Cadel Evans, Damiano Cunego and Vincenzo Nibali. The level of racing will be the best."
Contador will not race any of the Classics. He is planning a small vacation and then he will resume his focus on training for the Tour de France.
"I've decided not to do the Classics because I am already feeling the efforts that I have done in the Algarve and to continue racing another 20 days at this level can be too much," he said. "I do not want to take the risk of so many efforts. I think it is more intelligent to leave those for another season."