Contador recovers from illness to race Paris-Nice

Spaniard looking to avenge last year's defeat

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) has recovered from recent illness to line up at Paris-Nice where he will look to avenge a narrow loss from last year.

The Spaniard finished a close second in the 'Race to the Sun' in 2016, finishing four seconds adrift of Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) after losing time in a late split.

Contador has already impressed this season with a number of attacking displays and second overall in Ruta del Sol. He is still looking for his first win in Trek colours and will look at Paris-Nice – a race he won for the first time a decade ago – as the ideal opportunity. A cold at the end of February led to a short course of antibiotics but the former Tour de France winner has been given the all-clear to race.

"It was just a cold but it's under control now and I feel better. I was a little sick on the last stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour. In Andalucia I took antibiotics but I finished them last week and now I feel better and have confidence for the hard part of the race," he told Cyclingnews as he lined up for stage 1 of Paris-Nice in Bois-d'Arcy.

While Contador is in clement health the same could not be said of the weather conditions on stage 1. The rain fell overnight and continued during the sign-on with winds expected during the relatively short but technical stage. Given that Contador lost Paris-Nice last year due to a late split in the bunch, he knows better than most that riders with GC aspirations need to be attentive throughout the race.

"Every stage is a difficult for GC," he said. "We know that in Paris-Nice you can lose everything in one day and today the differences can be bigger than in the mountain stages or the time trial. You need to pay attention and make sure that you're in a good position the whole time. Then you just need to cross your fingers."

One rider tasked with keeping Contador is Gregory Rast. The experienced Swiss rider worked for Contador back in their Astana days and also rode as a domestique for Fabian Cancellara. The 37-year-old has the difficult task of supporting Contador and riding for John Degenkolb in the sprints.

"My job is to keep Alberto safe but also try and go for a stage win with John in the final," he told Cyclingnews.

"It's a difficult task today. I'll take care of Alberto for as long as possible but you know how he is, he wants to ride at the front. We'll try and stay at the front and then try and put him in a good position."

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