Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) has returned to the Vuelta a España with a renewed focus on the general classification and says the lack of a grand tour this year has not taken anything away from his condition. If anything, the Spaniard believes he’s arrived for the Grand Tour in similar to form to 2010 - when he crashed out of the tour whilst in the leader’s jersey.
"Comparisons are difficult but the data tells me I'm feeling better than last year, that's for sure. I have less beaten legs. I've prepared for this race very well, although results throughout the year have not gone as I expected. But that does not mean I’m not ready," he told Deia.
He’s struggled to regain the form shown in 2010 despite winning a stage at both the 2011 Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta but things are different this time around says the 29-year-old. He missed the Giro and Tour de France so he could prepare specifically for the Tour of Spain and will now seek to concentrate his efforts day by day, rather than targeting stage wins.
"If I get a shot [at a stage] I'm not going to knock it back, but I already have four stages and earning more is not essential for me. What we now want is to adjust and maintain concentration for 21 days, for the general [classification] fight."
"I will ride differently because I will look to the overall, trying to be steady and keep power but it is not easy. You cannot relax for a single day. It's about being smart. Let's see if I can do it."
Anton is yet to outline his exact goals but knows this year’s edition has many challengers for the overall. He says that while having Contador back in the peloton creates great exposure for his home race, he will need to summon all his anger from past disappointments if he is to beat the former Vuelta champion.
"Contador is the greatest rival but having him in the race brings more value to any result.
"I hope to use all my anger that I have. He [Contador] can have a bad day also. He is human, right?"