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Contador: I didn't expect to be going so strongly

The overall win at the Vuelta a Andalucia eluded Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) but he was still pleased with his second-place performance and to have earned a stage win during the six-stage race, which were the same results he had at the start of the 2014 season at Volta ao Algarve.

Just two seconds separated Contador from the overall race winner Chris Froome (Team Sky) in their first race of the year in Andalucia. Contador argued that the result “was very good, I certainly didn’t expect to be going so strongly compared to the rest of the field, even though I just missed out on winning overall.

“I’ve got a win I didn’t plan on, and I’m happy, my build-up for the Giro d’Italia is going very well.” He said he was surprised at taking second overall, the same result as last year in Algarve, which runs concurrently with Andalucia, behind current world champion Michal Kwiatkowski.

“This year the rival I’ve had is better at mountain climbing and as he [Froome] has said, he’s been building up for the Tour since last year’s race," Contador said.

“I believe he’s been training for quite a spell in South Africa, he’s in very good form, and you could tell he was counting the days to come to this race. So being so close to him is very good for me, it’s a good sign. And the team is working well, too, so we just have to go on like this.”

Contador insisted that Froome was not looking for revenge after losing the Vuelta a España to him last year. “I dont’ think that had anything to do with it. It’s more he’s very competitive and he likes preparing well for races.”

Contador will not think too hard about losing the Vuelta a Andalucia by two seconds. “It’s true I could have pushed myself a bit harder on the day I won, but that’s cycling, it is what it is. I got second and that’s all there is to it.”

He did not think, either, that it would have been possible to turn the tables on the long uphill finish on Sunday’s final stage to Alhaurin de la Torre. “I had no idea what the last little climb was like, I was ready to try for it if there had been an opportunity. But there was no way I could do anything, there wasn’t much room for attacking, it wasn’t that hard and it was complicated to try and split the pack apart today.”

Overall, then, Contador remains convinced that he is on the right track. “Hazallanas [stage 3] was a test, keeping a steady pace at all times, watching my watts, the same as when I train and it was an odd feeling to do that. I should maybe have pushed myself a bit harder, but I’m still very pleased all round. And the time trial, particularly bearing in mind how tricky it was, was a good result as well. That always boosts your confidence.”

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