Alberto Contador claimed his second overall victory at Paris-Nice, crossing the line on a demanding stage with a sigh of relief after he responded to numerous attacks in the finale.
His first success in the race in 2007 was also his first stage race victory at the ProTour level, but he was forced to wait three years to gain another title in Paris-Nice after Astana wasn't welcome at ASO races in 2008 and he lost due to hunger flat last year.
Contador explained that this year's win was special for a number of reasons.
"In 2007, it was a very important success to get exposure and show who Alberto Contador was," he said in a press conference following the final stage in Nice.
"It means a lot for me to win again because Paris-Nice is a race with incredible prestige. I learnt a lot from my mistake of last year. To win again signifies my legs responded well this week, although the course wasn't exactly suited for me. It was very fast and the time bonuses was crucial. Gaps were minor. To control the situation was crazy every day. That's why it means a lot to me to have won in such conditions."
Contador remains unbeaten in 2010 as he won the two races has taken part in – the Volta ao Algarve and Paris-Nice – despite his long absence from competition following the 2009 Tour de France.
"I love the game of winning," he said. "But it doesn't mean winning everything, anytime of the year, is an obsession." His main goal remains the Tour de France. He's scheduled for the Tour of Catalunya and the Tour of the Basque country, after which he'll decide whether he lines up in the Ardennes classics or not.
As he was commenting in front of the international media in Nice, his teammates Enrico Gasparotto and Maxim Iglinsky took first and third place at Tirreno-Adriatico respectively. The information came to him as another sign that Astana isn't that weak after all.
"I've heard a few criticisms about Astana but the team has done what had to be done at Paris-Nice," Contador said. "There's one point I want to clarify: maybe the last 40 or 50 kilometres are broadcasted on TV but before that, my team has worked tremendously. On Saturday when Euskaltel and Caisse d'Epargne rode in front as well towards the finish, it was for their own interest."
Contador isn't keen to enter polemics on the subject of RadioShack, the team mostly formed of his former teammates who were pretty quiet during Paris-Nice in the absence of Lance Armstrong.
"They haven't been in the front of the two races I've done with them (Algarve and Paris-Nice) but it's a powerful team with riders of good quality and experience," the Spaniard said.
During Paris-Nice, Contador seemed to have more friends than enemies in the bunch when the situation of the race wasn't exactly in his favour.