Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) said he had come through Tuesday’s transition stage without any difficulty but recognised that Wednesday’s first summit finish of the Vuelta a España would represent a much more serious challenge.
After initially being unsure what had caused his poor day in the mountains on Monday, Contador confirmed after stage 4 that he had been suffering from stomach problems, which had made themselves manifest during a rough night in Andorra. The big question, now that the reason for his difficulties had been identified, was how long they would last.
"You never know with a virus whether it's something that's going to be a problem that only affects you for one day or for several," Contador said. "I hope it'll go, but the opposite could happen. We'll go day by day, stay concentrated and fingers crossed I'll hit the same kind of form that I had before la Vuelta.
Trek-Segafredo sports director Dirk De Mol told Cyclingnews the team were not panicking, and instead were taking a wait-and-see approach.
"Let's see," De Mol said. "It's not like he's lost 15 minutes; he's lost two and a half. Let's see how quickly he can get over it."
Contador agreed that Wednesday's difficult 3km ascent to la Ermita de Santa Lucia, coming at the end of a stage with more than 2,700 metres of climbing, could well be a "big test."
"Today's terrain was pretty straightforward," he said. "It's not possible to draw too many conclusions."
Contador concurred with Chris Froome (Team Sky) that Tuesday's stage across Catalonia had been very tricky, with a dangerous last kilometre in particular, and that "there were a lot of crashes at the end. It was supposedly a transition stage, but in fact it was very nervous."
On top of that, Contador had had a rough night, and not just because of his stomach.
"I came with some plans and yesterday they went awry," he said. "I just hope I can recover and try for something further down the line."
First, though, is the short-term question of whether his stomach virus lets him recover.
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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