As Alberto Contador waits for the unveiling of the official route of what will be the ninth Tour de France of his career, he has said that he feels "the length of the time trial" will be a key factor to the 2016 race.
A winner of the Tour de France in 2007 and 2009, the 2016 race may well be the last of his career, "although it's not certain," he told Spanish daily El País on Tuesday. Contador has already confirmed that he will target the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana in 2016 after winning the Giro d'Italia in 2015.
"If I fall off or if I have to abandon, I would come back in 2017, or if I manage to set up my own team outside of TInkoff, given my contract with them ends in 2016."
"Whether or not it's my last Tour is something I will decide. And that freedom to decide prevents me from feeling sad about it…but I would like a last good Tour to have a good ending to it all."
A lot of the 2016 Tour de France route has already been revealed but as Contador told El País, one crucial piece of data is still missing: "It'll be fundamental to know how long the [mid-race] time trial will be. 40 kilometres? 50? 60? Will it be very flat? Will it have a climb? If it's a hard climb, I'm not worried. In 2013 I was very close to Froome in the hilly Embrun time trial stage, but the Mont-Saint-Michel time trial stage was my worst. If the average speed is around 48 to 49 km/h, that'll suit me."
Contador will not be present in Paris this Tuesday because of other obligations. Looking at what is known or strongly rumoured of the route overall, Contador described the Mont Ventoux finish and time trial combination mid-race as "a bit odd."
"It's hard to calculate if that's good or bad for me," he told El Pais. "In every Tour it's all about adapting to the route, not having any bad days, and understanding your rivals. Froome, for example, always starts strong, and fades in the last week, Nairo Quintana on the other hand, takes longer to get moving. I'll just have to adapt and look out for my chances."