Contador has confirmed his 2017 will be built around targeting the Tour de France in July and refused to say if he will be in Nimes on August 19 for the start of the Vuelta a Espana during an exclusive interview with Cyclingnews. A decision could depend on his form after the Tour de France and his clear displeasure about the route.
“The appealing thing about the Vuelta is that it’s my home country’s Grand Tour and that makes it special. But we’ll have to see [regarding his participation] further down the line,” he said.
The 2017 Vuelta route has a 42-kilometre time trial on stage 16, running from the Circuito de Navarra to Logrono. Initial reports say it will be largely flat and technical. The 2017 Vuelta route also features nine summit finishes.
Interviewed by El País newspaper, Contador - fourth in the 2016 Vuelta and with victories in the Spanish Grand Tour in 2008, 2012 and 2014, argued that this was “too much time trialling and too flat.” “I would have liked it [the time trial] to have had a categorized climb,” he said.
“I also don’t like where it is placed in the race schedule, just after the Sierra Nevada stage. It should have come before, so that everybody who lost time in the time trial then had to fight hard in the mountains and maybe take more risks.”
“The time trial,” he told El País, “is going to do a lot of damage. After that, there’s only the Angliru to try and get time back.”
Contador has won on the Angliru in 2008. In 2012 he won the Vuelta thanks to a stunning last week surprise attack to Fuente De. In 2014, he took the Vuelta for a third time thanks to a combination of strong racing in the long and hilly mid-race time trial, and then by out-powering Chris Froome (Team Sky) on the third week’s summit finishes.
Contador may well fear that Froome could gain significant time again in the Logrono time trial, should the Briton opt to ride the Vuelta again. Last year Froome turned in a devastating performance in the long individual time trial in the third week of the 2016 Vuelta, defeating all of his rivals including the Spaniard by significant margins. However, Froome’s defeat in the final Pyrenean stage left the Briton unable to improve on his second place overall of 2011 and 2014 and in the 2016 Vuelta. He finished as the runner-up again behind Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in Madrid.