On Monday, he won the criterium of Lacq-Audejas ahead of the Tour’s best young rider Pierre Rolland (Europcar), most aggressive rider Jérémy Roy (FDJ) and world champion Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo). On Tuesday, he came second to Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) at Castillon-la-Bataille, where last year he had been the first winner of the Tour de France to take part in a French criterium since Marco Pantani in 1998. For the second time, he responded positively to the invitation of organiser Georges Barrière.
“I was amazed by how hard this course was,” Contador told Cyclingnews at Castillon-la-Bataille. The Spaniard looked happy to finally be very popular in France one year after being criticised because of the “chaingate” incident involving Andy Schleck, and just one month after being booed by a part of the crowd at the Tour de France teams’ presentation in the Vendée. Even when Voeckler was not present, the French post-Tour criteriums have enjoyed large popular success over the past week following the huge impact of the race last month.
Accompanied by his friend and teammate Jesus Hernandez, Contador said: “I never came out of the Tour de France as tired as this year. Physically and emotionally, it’s been a very demanding season. I have yet to discuss it with [Saxo Bank-SunGard team manager] Bjarne [Riis] but it’s time for me to rest and relax.”
Contador has no plan to leave Spain as he intends to divide his time between his village of Pinto, his holiday home in Valencia and the Canary Islands. Even though he has it in mind to ride the three Grand Tours in one year and the CAS hearing into his Clenbuterol case has been postponed until November, the 2011 Vuelta a España will kick off without him from Benidorm on August 20. Nonetheless, Contador is keen to do it next year and he has ruled out the option of defending his title at the Giro d’Italia in 2012.
Contador preferred to drive from Castillon-la-Bataille to Pinto on Tuesday night rather than wait for a plane the next day, as he is in a hurry to go on vacation.