Alberto Contador won his first race of the season at the Volta ao Algave, and in doing so sent a clear message to all his Tour de France rivals. The Spaniard finished within the bunch on the final stage - won by Heinrich Haussler in a bunch sprint - but claimed the overall classification by virtue of his second place on the mountaintop finish on stage three, and victory in the following day's time trial in Tavira.
It was Contador's ninth professional win of his career and an ominous sign of form as he builds up to the Tour de France in July. But while he was happy with his early season performance, Contador was keen to make out that victory here in Portugal signified just one step in accomplishing his bigger goal. "This is the first step toward preparing for the Tour. I had a good training camp, but I never know what to expect in your first race. The team worked hard and when the opportunity presented itself, we capitalised. Now I will look to Paris-Nice, a race that I won two years ago," said Contador.
After Paris-Nice, Contador will head to the Vuelta a Castilla y León, the Vuelta al País Vasco and the possibility of racing at some of the Spring Classics. "We will decide about the classics in País Vasco", said Contador. Finally, Contador denied that this victory was designed as a message for Lance Armstrong, who is currently racing in the Tour of California. "By no means, I only go to cycling races and, if I win, better, because it is what I like, to ride bike, but certainly that this has not been any message for Lance. He is my team mate."