Alberto Contador finds himself on the back foot in his bid to claim a third overall Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta title following stage 2 of the Portuguese race in which the Tinkoff rider conceded time to his overall rivals. With Tinkoff working on the front of the peloton ahead of the seven-kilometre climb up Alto da Foia, sports director Steven de Jongh explained the efforts took their toll with less support than anticipated.
"Today the team worked hard to put Alberto in a good position," said de Jongh. "It was a very tough day with a lot of wind of course, and in the finale Alberto was super. The result was not what we hoped for, and he was a bit isolated because some riders left him a bit earlier than we planned. It wasn't a top day but some of our riders did their work really well, that was good work. Tomorrow, we have a time trial and Alberto wants to have a good race. We will see how it goes."
The 33-year-old explained that with the pace being constantly lifted up the climb, he was unable to follow the likes of Sanchez having tried to split the race on the penultimate climb.
"I think it's evident I still lack a bit of pace. In the penultimate climb I was feeling better but the finish was tough because of the strong wind. It was difficult to keep the rhythm and behind me, the group had a better pace. When the race accelerated in the final kilometer, I was unable to follow and I lost time. For me, the important aspect is that the sensations I have keep improving," Contador said.
"In the penultimate climb, I tried to make the race a bit harder because the group was quite big but it was difficult to break the race with so much wind. There are riders with better legs here because they already have races under their belts.
The 2009 and 2010 winner of the race added that while he was aiming for a better result, the 18km time trial tomorrow is another test and will assist his ambition of a strong performance at Paris-Nice early next-month.
"The Volta ao Algarve serves as a preparation towards Paris-Nice, where my goal is to have a good result. The sensations I have are what I expected. The work we carried out in Tenerife focused on building force and what I lack is race rhythm. That's precisely what I'm here for," he added.
"Tomorrow, we will tackle a time-trial and although it will be long and flat, it will be a very useful training towards my upcoming objectives."