Giro d'Italia winner Alberto Contador survived a 36°C day in the Vuelta a España yesterday to continue his aim at a third Grand Tour title. Team Astana's Contador, 25, is eyeing the time trial on Wednesday as the first true test of the three-week Spanish race.
"The heat was noticed well on these roads. I don't know how many degrees it was, but you already began to feel the heat on your feet a little and the having a dry mouth. It has been a hard, although relatively comfortable day," Contador said in a press release.
The 168.6-kilometre stage three to Córdoba was marked with an escape by Manuel Ortega of Team Andalucía-Cajasur. A fight for sprint victory took over after Ortega's capture. Contador remained well protected thanks to the work of his team.
"There were pressing moments and the team had to control with [Sergio] Paulinho, who did his work very well." Belgian's Tom Boonen captured the stage over Italy's Daniele Bennati.
Contador, winner of this year's Giro and the 2007 Tour de France, is looking for his third Grand Tour victory with the Vuelta. Major splits will appear in the classification – now led by Bennati – for the first time tomorrow. The riders will tackle the 42.5-kilometre time trial around Ciudad Real.
"I continue with good feelings and the legs respond very well. I am gaining more competition rhythm and, although I won't arrive at the time trial one-hundred percent, I will already be at a good level."