Alberto Contador will aim to have some peaks in form in the early part of next season, rather than replicating the more gradual approach he had to the Tour de France this year, according to Saxo-Tinkoff directeur sportif Phillipe Mauduit.
Contador finished in 4th place at the 2013 Tour and has already signalled that he will start next season significantly later than he did this past campaign, when his first race was at the Tour de San Luis in January. He then looked to build his condition steadily towards July.
In 2014, Mauduit said, Contador will instead aim to reach form early and win selected stage races, but he is likely to stay away from racing in late April and early May ahead of his final build-up to the Tour.
"The option chosen in 2013 didn't fit with Alberto's physiology or with his psychology," Mauduit told L’Équipe. "In years gone by, he had set himself some very early targets, like Paris-Nice and the Tour of the Basque Country. We're going to go back towards this more classic approach." [Contador won Paris-Nice in 2007 and 2010, and the Tour of the Basque Country in 2008 and 2009 – ed.]
"Some riders, like Alberto, need something more cyclical, where they have a big period of work, a peak of form, a rest period, then a new phase of work, a second peak of form… It's closely linked to the rider's motivation. If you don’t understand that, there’s every chance that you'll fail."
While Contador seems set to begin his season at the Volta ao Algarve in February, and will ride both the Tour and the Vuelta a España, the details of the remainder of his 2014 race schedule are yet to be decided.
"We don't know the route of Paris-Nice yet, for example. Before committing to a race, you'd like to know what kind of ground you're dancing on," Maduit said. "The only parameter that's fixed is the alternation between periods of racing, resting and working in the mountains."
Mauduit did confirm, however, that Contador's racing is likely to be restricted as spring draws to a close due to a pollen allergy. "Alberto is really handicapped by pollen, so in late April, early May, you wouldn't have much interest in putting him through big workloads at races," he said.
"Instead, he's going to go to places in the mountains where nature will leave him alone. The allergy doesn't stop him from working hard, he just needs to adapt."