Alberto Contador has said that he would ban the use of power meters in races in order to provide for more aggressive racing. In a wide-ranging interview with Marca, the recently-retired Spaniard also revisited and reiterated his call for a salary cap to be introduced in professional cycling.
Although Contador will line up at the Japan Cup and a criterium in Shanghai later this month, he effectively signed off on his professional career with stage victory atop the Angliru on the final weekend of the Vuelta a España, where he finished fourth overall in Madrid.
Contador was one of the principal animators of the Vuelta, but throughout the three weeks winner Chris Froome's imposing Team Sky squad succeeded in tempering the aggression of most of his rivals, as they did for much of July's Tour de France. Contador maintained that riders were dissuaded from attacking by the information emanating from their power meters.
"The earpiece restricts invention less than the power meter, which I'd eliminate from use competition," Contador told Marca.
"If you're going up a climb and you know that you can't go over 400 Watts and Sky are at the front of the peloton going at 400 Watts, you don't dare to attack because you'll blow up inside two kilometres. But if you don't see the numbers, your sensations might lead you to attack. Riders block themselves when they see the numbers, especially on gradients of six or seven per cent."
During a rest day press conference at the Vuelta, Contador said that he believed cycling should introduce a salary cap for fear the rising costs of running a top-level team would dissuade sponsors from entering the sport. Speaking to Marca, he also pointed out that big-budget teams could dominate certain races.
"If a team has four times the budgets of others, it will have a lot of riders who could be leader on other teams. With teams like that, the race gets blocked and doesn't break up," Contador said.
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Contador's initial comments on the salary cap were met with scepticism by his old teammate Lance Armstrong. "Pfft.. Easy to say in his final press conference," Armstrong wrote on Twitter.
Contador insisted that his impending retirement and his calls for a salary cap were not linked.
"It has nothing to do with it," he said. "The wage limit can be high, but not stratospheric. A leader can have a high salary, and then you can make a good and competitive team around him, and balance things much more in the races, like they're doing now by having eight riders [instead of nine – ed.] in the Grand Tours."
Although Contador's attack on the road to Fuente Dé in 2012, which netted him Vuelta victory on his return from his doping ban, is often viewed as the stand-out performance of his career, the Spaniard said that he had gleaned equal pleasure from ultimately unsuccessful raids, such as his long-range attack on the Alpe d'Huez stage of the 2011 Tour, or his attack on the final stage of this year's Paris-Nice.
"It [Fuente Dé] was beautiful because it had a very big prize, the stage and the overall, but there have also been similar attacks that did not have the same end, yet I enjoyed them as much as that, and so did the public," Contador said.
"There was the attack on the Télégraphe, five kilometres into a stage with another 100 kilometres to go [in 2011 – ed.] or the attack from distance this year on the Croix de Fer [on stage 17 of the Tour – ed.], or even when everyone expected me to attack, like at Paris-Nice. They may have not have had a finish like Fuente Dé, but for me they were just as satisfying."
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