Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Sungard) has downplayed rumours that he was ‘pissed off’ because Giro d’Italia organisers had used the gravelled roads of the strade bianche in the 2011 race. On the other hand, he insisted that the race already offers enough risk on a daily basis - without complicating it further.
"Yesterday was a technical and difficult stage", the Spaniard said as he answered the questions of the diverse media at the Processo alla tappa following stage six on RAI television.
"There was the risk of crashing and there were a lot of punctures but controversy is out of question. I respect this stage. There weren’t any major problems and we continue the Giro. This is a special race for me. I like it! I like it! I’ve kept found memories of my participation in 2008. When I see the replay of these images from three years, I realize that I was much younger, but I’m also much better prepared this time around."
Contador and the Astana team were a last minute inclusion at the 2008 Giro d’Italia.
"I’ve learned from my first experience that the Giro can be lost any day", the triple winner of the Tour de France added. "There isn’t any quiet day. There’s always someone keen to attack."
Asked about his intention of riding three Grand Tours for the win the same year, he answered: "I’m not thinking about it for now. I only have the date of May 29th in my mind. That’s the end of the Giro. After six days in the race, I already feel tired, so I don’t even want to consider the [prospect of] three Grand Tours right now."
"I don’t feel the whole burden of the race on my shoulder", he continued. "Everyone defends his own interests. I pay attention to every move in the race but that’s similar to what I’m used to do at the Tour de France. It’s difficult to stay at the front in this race. I don’t pay more attention to either [Vincenzo] Nibali or [Michele] Scarponi. Both of them are dangerous rivals. But I’m not afraid of them. I respect them. Respect, yes, fear, no!"
"From tomorrow onwards, there will be opportunities for both of them", Contador added. "At the Montevergine, I don’t know what will happen but I presume it’ll be a sprint between fifteen riders. Then Etna will come after that. I don’t want to tell the tifosi in advance where I’ll be attacking but if I wasn’t participating at the Giro d’Italia, I’d watch on TV the three consecutive mountain stages [13, 14 and 15, ed.] in Austria, on the Zoncolan and Gardeccia," the Spaniard hinted.
Having had a life threatening accident himself at the 2004 Vuelta Asturias, the Spaniard was clearly affected when asked about the tragic death of Wouter Weylandt on Monday.
"This was really difficult for us to accept", he commented with some tears in his eyes.
"[Personal press officer] Jacinto [Vidarte] informed me once I passed the finishing line. It is impossible for me to describe my feelings at that moment. I remember we went at an incredible speed in that downhill. Everyone says Wouter was a really nice guy. He was a great rider who won a stage at the Giro last year and at the Vuelta before. It’s so sad…"
Usually suffering from allergies at this time of the year, Contador stated that he hasn’t been affected these days. "I have no such problems at the moment", he said. "It’s under control and I hope it’ll remain the same."
He also confirmed that his racing isn’t affected by the decision due to come in June from CAS over his clenbuterol problem. "I’m 100% focused on the race", he noted. "That’s what I need for winning. I hope I’ll be cleared. I’m innocent and I fully trust the judges."