Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) eventually laboured to 4th place overall at the Tour de France but the Spaniard has revealed that he had entered the race with a lot of confidence after clocking up a number of personal bests on tests in the climbs near his home in Pinto.
“Before the Tour, I set my best-ever times in training at Navacerrada and Morquera. I’d never gone as well on my climbs before and for that reason I went to France with a lot of confidence,” Contador told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I was certain that I would win or that I would go very close. Instead, as early as Corsica I didn’t have good sensations and the data was immediately much worse than in training.”
Contador has lacked his usual effervescence for much of the 2013 season, and indeed ever since he returned from his doping suspension in August of last year. He hinted that he will look to race less often in 2014 and begin his season later than he has done in recent years, where he has tended to start his campaign with the Tour de San Luis in January.
“In the end, the secret of winning the Grand Tours is finding the right alchemy that allows you to be on top form at the key moment. It wasn’t like that and I’ll have to change something in how I schedule my season,” Contador said. “I started too early, in Argentina. I didn’t have the right condition but if you put a number on my back, I like to fight to win. I shouldn’t have tried to force it.
“And then, in the ten weeks before the Tour, I only spent two at home. I was away for the others, between training, racing and reconnoitring stages.”
Contador has confirmed that he will not defend his Vuelta a España title and will instead focus on one-day races in the final weeks of the 2013 season. He will ride the GP Ouest-France, GP de Québec, GP de Montréal, the world championships – “if the selectors want me” – and the Tour of Lombardy. “As races, they’re not the best suited to me, but they motivate me a lot,” he said.
It also appears unlikely that Contador will return to the Giro d’Italia in 2014, although he reiterated his promise to return soon to the race. “However, even though it’s a long way off, I’m already thinking of next year’s Tour de France,” he said. “I’m aiming 100 percent for that.”
The Saxo-Tinkoff team have lost the backing of Oleg Tinkov for next season but Contador said he was not worried for the team’s future. “I’m confident there won’t be problems,” he said.
Asked about Tinkov’s much-publicised criticism on Twitter, which appears to have precipitated manager Bjarne Riis’ decision to part ways with the Russian, Contador opted to keep his counsel, with Gazzetta noting that “Contador changes expression, becomes very serious, and signals that he won’t answer the question.”