Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) won his sixth Grand Tour less than a week ago, but he’s already eyeing up his next one. The newly crowned Vuelta a España champion has named Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Chris Froome (Team Sky) as his two main rivals for the 2015 Tour de France.
“He is very young and he will continue to get better,” Contador said of Quintana in an interview with Spanish sports daily Marca. “Perhaps Froome has a point in his favour in the time trial, he is very strong in that discipline.”
The trio should have faced off against each other in the Spanish mountains this month. However, Quintana departed from the Vuelta a España early when he crashed during the first individual time trial and again the following day. While Froome was more of a known entity to Contador, Quintana was not. The two have rarely gone truly head to head when both are on form.
“It would have been great for the race, because he is a rider that has form in the Grand Tours,” said Contador. “We could have seen what place he could have finished. In the tough finishes on Farrapona or Ancares he would also have been up front, in those more explosive finals, if not both, but now we will not know. It was a shame, but fortunately we will have a chance to see it next year.”
The battle between Contador and Froome was nevertheless an exciting one. Both riders left the Tour de France with broken dreams and broken bones. Contador’s crash came five days later than Froome when he fractured his tibia on stage 10. With Froome already targeting the final Grand Tour of the year, from the moment Contador called it quits the next battle with his rival had already begun.
“(I had) the belief that if he could do it (make the Vuelta) then so could I,” explained Contador. “I saw the training data with the coach that had worked with them [Sky] and that knew the times that they had done. We compared than and sometimes they were better. That gives you confidence, but he is a very hard racer.”
While Contador was in commanding form, he says that holding onto Froome was harder than it looked. “He puts out a very high wattage and also changes the rhythm. At times you do not appreciate it, because he attacks in the saddle, but he is constantly changing the rhythm. On Ancares, he did it eight or nine times. That is the moment where you have to hang on.”
His sixth Grand Tour title in the bag - his wins in the 2010 Tour and 2011 Giro were revoked - Contador has said that he will skip his home World Championships in Ponferrada, but he will line up at Il Lombardia on October 5.
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