Despite missing out on a general classification victory for the fourth time in 2017 by 17 seconds, Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) explained the narrow loss in the Basque Country will only add to his level of motivation.
At the Ruta del Sol, Contador was second to Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) by one second, second to Sergio Henao (Sky) by two seconds at Paris-Nice, and then second again to Valverde at Volta a Catalunya by 1:03 minute. Going into the final day Vuelta al Pais Vasco time trial, Contador was three seconds in arrears to Valverde. Fourth place on the stage saw Contador finish the race 17 seconds down on his rival in the general classification battle. While Contador pointed to several external factors throughout the race, he explained the overall result was satisfactory.
"I'm satisfied because it's been a race in which I've been through everything: falls, punctures, breakdowns, the fall of Samu (Sanchez) in front of me and, to top it all, today the radio did not work almost from the start," said Contador. "Not much luck has accompanied me, but if that changes for me in another race, which is what I want, I'm okay with it happening here."
Still searching for his first win since last August's Vuelta a Burgos title and first in Trek-Segafredo colours, Contador had experienced past success in the Pais Vasco time trial. Upon crossing the finish line, Contador was the virtual leader of the race but once Valverde hit the line he dropped down into second place.
"We decided to start with the road bike because I crashed three days ago and I'm sore, and it was easier to not hold the [TT] position when I was climbing," he said of the stage tactic. "We had tested it this morning, and we decided to opt for the normal handlebars to avoid the aerodynamic position at first, and I think it was a good option."
While Contador's 2017 lacks the early-year success of previous seasons, the 34-year-old is explained he feels he is on track for his major aim of claiming a third Tour de France title in July.
"I'm satisfied with my performance here and since the beginning of the season, which has been really good," Contador said. "I have missed the victory in all races for a little bit, but for me, instead of taking away my morale, it gives me extra motivation. It's going to make me work harder because you have to wait for good things."