Alberto Contador entered the most recent round of the WorldTour at Tour of the Basque Country with winning ambitions but after six days of racing and more than 800km covered, much of it in trying conditions, the Saxo-Tinkoff leader has placed a question mark over the upcoming Ardennes classics.
Contador raced at the one-day Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta the day after finishing Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco in fifth overall and while he came close to the win after attacking on the final climb, he ultimately finished third to a fast-finishing Rui Costa (Movistar). The affects of such a busy start to the year, having accumulated more than 28 days of competition so far has begun to show, according to the rider who will seek to win the Tour de France this year.
"My legs were heavily burdened. The body feels the fatigue of all of these days and although we could not win, we had fun," he said following the 1.1 race in Spain.
"I attacked on the last climb and at the end it was only Beñat Intxausti and me. It was a pity that they caught us with only 25 metres to go and I could only achieve third," he added.
The Spaniard is never one to arrive at a race simply for training or to find race rhythm but his schedule so far in 2013 has perhaps left him in need of rest before deciding on his participation in Amstel Gold, La Flèche Wallonne or Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
"It has already been a busy start to the year from January, in Argentina [Tour de San Luis], and as a rider I always like to get into the fight on races, and I did so at the Tour de San Luis - even though I didn’t have sufficient training for entering in such battles. Although I got good results, it has taken its toll a little later," he said.
Contador is yet to win any of the Ardennes classics that fall within a one-week period each year. His best result was third-place at the 2010 Flèche Wallonne but he has been named on the provisional start list for both Flèche and Liège already. Whether he can bounce back from his current state of tiredness remains to be seen however, with a little over one week before the start of Flèche it appears a number of favourites may be gifted a small sigh of relief.
"Now I'll rest a little to see how the body reacts to these efforts of the early season and, more recently, the Tour of the Basque Country. From there we will decide what to do," he said in regard to lining up at the Ardennes classics.