Tour de France winner to skips Worlds, but warns Spain is strongest
Tour de France winner Alberto Contador will skip the World Championships next Sunday in Mendrisio, Switzerland, but warns his Spanish team will be the "most powerful" team.
"Spain has the most powerful team for this race, with three great leaders: Samuel Sánchez, Alejandro Valverde and Oscar Freire. And they will have good helpers with them," Contador told Cyclingnews.
This year's 262.2-kilometres course features more climbing, 4655 metres, than recent years. There are two climbs, Acqua Fresca and Novazzano, on the 13.8-kilometre circuit, with the last coming 2.5 kilometres from the finish.
Freire is a sprinter, but has won three World Champion titles (Lisbon in 2001, Verona in 1999 and 2004).
"The circuit is ideal for our leaders, also for Oscar, because he is very motivated for this race," continued Contador. "My best memories are from the first year that Freire won in Verona, when he attacked alone and he was a unknown rider."
Besides the Spaniards, Contador listed Andy Schleck (Luxembourg), Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) and Damiano Cunego (Italy) as favourites.
Contador's last race was his second Tour de France win in July. He decided to end his season early and skip the Worlds, in order to prepare for 2010 and a likely change from team Astana. The last time a Tour winner went on to win the Worlds in the same year was in 1989, when USA's Greg LeMond won in Chambéry, France.
"It is difficult to do, but not impossible," Contador said of the Tour-Worlds double. "The most important is to do the Vuelta a España if you want to be competitive at Worlds."
The chances of a Tour winner winning the Worlds in the next two years are small. The next two years are suited to sprinters: Melbourne, Australia, in 2010 and Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2011.
Contador is the only active rider to have won all three Grand Tours. He won the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España in 2008.
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