Contador completed stage 4 in the same time as all the other main favourites, although he has dropped a spot overall, to thirteenth, after Darwin Atapuma (BMC Racing Team) moved into the lead from the day's winning breakaway.
"We knew it wasn't a very difficult final climb, but the important thing is I felt a lot better," Contador said. "Obviously your legs always hurt after an effort like that, but I feel fine and pleased to have got through another stage."
Contador had said before the stage that it was possible that his poor performance on the Ezaro climb was due to dehydration, given he said he had suffered more than usual in the heat, his pulse rate went very high and he had felt very thirsty. Other sources confirmed that after Ezaro, Contador was so dehydrated he spent roughly two hours in the anti-doping control before he could produce a urine sample.
"I feel pretty optimistic now," he added, "I'll start to try to shake things up a little further on, when I've got the right kind of form that racing can give you."
As a team, Tinkoff will not miss Galicia's constantly undulating terrain, Contador said with a smile - although there are still two more full stages in Spain's most northwesterly region.
"My non-Spanish teammates have joked a lot about how hard the roads are here, and it's certainly been a tough start for the Vuelta, with a team time trial and two summit finishes. Hopefully we'll start to pull back time on my rivals from here on, in whatever opportunities we get from now on."
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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