Two days after his big crash in the Vuelta a España, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) continues to recover from his injuries, although as the Spaniard had predicted, he spent the stage following wheels rather than trying to recoup some more time losses.
Contador had warned after stage 8, where he raced surprisingly strongly on the ascent of Alto de la Camperona, that injuries of the type he suffered in stage 7 of the Vuelta were often more painful and trickier to handle 48 hours after the crash, rather than in the more immediate aftermath.
However, on stage 9 the Spaniard looked to be in solid, if not spectacular shape, staying with the main group of favourites and finishing 18th on the Naranco, even as outsiders like former leader Darwin Atapuma (BMC Racing) and Louis Meintjes (Lampre-Merida) shipped a little time.
Still seventh overall, the Spanish stage racing specialist began his customary post-race interviews by congratulating compatriot David De La Cruz (Etixx-QuickStep) at length for taking the lead. But he then described his own feelings in a somewhat ambiguous fashion as "good, although my legs felt more blocked up than I'd have liked."
"It was a very hard start, very fast, so maybe that's why I felt a bit blocked up, but overall I'm happy, once my legs had warmed up I felt fine." Contador said before proceeding to warm down on the rollers near the line.
"It was a relatively straightforward stage, not too complicated in the bunch. I'm looking forward to the Lagos de Covadonga [on Monday's summit finish] because I like mountain stages, but let's see how my body recovers first."
Contador gave little away as to what his intentions were for Monday's stage, stating first that "the aim is to get through, I'll try to hold on to what I've got and if my body needs more time to recover then that's it."
But he then promptly qualified that by adding "if there's a chance to shake things up, I'll take it."
As the cycling cliche neatly puts it, for now Contador will be letting his legs do the talking.
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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