Contador returned to competitive action in early August after sitting out the past six months of racing as part of a back-dated suspension for his positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France.
The Spaniard has been an aggressive presence at the Vuelta thus far but has yet to win a stage and begins Wednesday’s time trial in 3rd place overall, a minute behind Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).
“I think Alberto Contador is riding with too much eagerness,” Indurain wrote in Marca. “I think someone should calm him down […] and explain that it is better to attack less often, but with more effectiveness and a better result. Because, when you attack, the aim has to be to do damage to your rivals.”
Contador attacked no fewer than six times on the climb of the Arrate on stage 3, but was unable to drop his main rivals. An attack inside the final kilometre of the Collada de la Gallina on stage 8 looked to set to net Contador a stage win, but Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) swept past him in the closing metres.
In the finale of the following day’s stage to Barcelona, Contador admitted that he had made an error in attacking before the final climb up Montjuic.
“Alberto is riding like he’s in a hurry, as if the Vuelta finished tomorrow, when the reality is that it’s only just starting,” Indurain continued. “He wants things now, and sometimes, when you ride on the counterattack, it can bring the opposite effect. In my opinion, he is wasting a lot of strength and opportunities.”
Indurain recognised, however, that in the second half of the Vuelta, Contador’s six-month lay-off may yet prove to be an advantage. “It’s possible that after the break, he’s getting better every day. In addition, physically and mentally, he is fresher than his rivals.”