Alberto Contador must win the Vuelta a Espana whilst Andy Schleck will ride it only for training, if at all, Bjarne Riis said. The Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank team owner is ready to put the Tour de France behind him and look towards the return of his star, who he says “must” win the Vuelta.
Riis also confirmed that Chris Anker Sorensen has extended his contract with the team for an additional three years.
Riis has been in contact with Contador several times a week, being updated on his training. Contador is serving out the end of a doping-related ban, which expires on August 6. He is expected to start in the Eneco Tour before taking on the Vuelta.
Contador “has looked at all the stages, and we've already talked a little about them. Soon he will have the route book in his hand, and we get to see who will start the race, and then we can really prepare. But it's actually fairly simple, for he must win,” Riis told sporten.dk.
The final plans will be made at Eneco. “When we get down there, we will put the Vuelta strategy together. We will look at how we should ride the various stages, and then take it day by day when it starts.”
Contador has been concentrating on his training and therefore given no interviews lately, both Riis and the Spaniard's personal spokesman, Jacinto Vidarte said.
At the Vuelta, he will face competition from such riders as Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Chris Froome (Sky), who finished second last year. But it seems unlikely to Riis that Andy Schleck will compete for the title, if he is even able to ride.
Schleck is recovering from a broken bone in his pelvis, which has caused him to miss both the Tour de France and the 2012 London Olympics. He is doubtful for the Vuelta, which starts on August 18.
“I don't think it will be a duel between the two. If Andy rides, then I don't think he will be in the form he will need to go for the win. I think he will ride to get fit again. From what I've heard, he has not trained so much and you must do that to win.”
Sorensen extends for three years
Riis also confirmed that Chris Anker Sorensen has extended his contract for an additional three years. “He has got a pay rise and we have made a three-year agreement with him. All parties are satisfied.”
The Dane, who has ridden for Riis his entire career, was named “super combative” rider at the Tour. On Friday's 17th stage he suffered damage to fingers on his left hand when he tried to remove a piece of newspaper from his front wheel, and he faces possible surgery this week.
“I'm really happy. I have had many good years on the team and I am sure that having a lot of good years ahead,” Sorensen said. He will ride in support of Contador at next year's Tour de France, but will have his own chances in other races.