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Contador "I'm better than in 2009"

Astana's Alberto Contador adjusts his helmet prior to a training ride in Calpe, Spain.

Astana's Alberto Contador adjusts his helmet prior to a training ride in Calpe, Spain. (Image credit: AFP)

Alberto Contador is starting the 2010 season with even better training data than in 2009, an indication that the 27 year-old multiple Grand Tour winner can make further progress in performance during the season.

In an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca, Contador confirmed that he thought he hadn't reached his peak and also talked about the polemic surrounding the time trial wheels used by Team Astana at the last Tour de France.

"I am now 27 years old, and I think that I still have some margins for improvement, both in the mountains in the time trials," he said. "I'm having a lot of fun in training at the moment and my data is better than before," he added, explaining that his training data during January 2010 were superior to that recorded in January 2009.

This improvement was not due to more intensive training, Contador said. "Actually at this time I should be a bit short of training because I haven't raced since the Tour, when in 2008 I raced until the Worlds."

Compared to 2009, the start of this year was mentally less difficult, as the Spaniard does not have to worry about team leadership for the Tour de France. "Last year, I tried not to waste energy in these things, but it's true that this year the atmosphere has been more relaxed," he said.

Contador also answered questions about the the continuing controversy surrounding his claim that he had to buy his own time trial wheels at the 2009 Tour de France, after discovering that the ones belonging to Lance Armstrong were allegedly better quality.

"Johan [Bruyneel] knows the truth," he said when asked what he made of Bruyneel's affirmations that both Contador and Armstrong were provided the same wheels from American bike manufacturer Trek.

"There was a pair of wheels of a certain brand that were more advanced and lighter than the rest. I thought that there had to be equality in the team and I decided to buy a pair. We shouldn't have to go on and on about this - that's the way it was, period."

The war of words between Armstrong and Contador started long before last year's Tour de France, with Johan Bruyneel caught between the two leaders until his departure to RadioShack became official. The polemics have not ceased to spark headlines and are bound to continue at least until this year's Tour, where both Contador and Armstrong wants to win. Contador said he understands the interest in the polemics but claims he does not get distracted by them.

"I perfectly understand [that journalists keep asking about Armstrong], I know that this interests a lot of people. But I take it with a pinch of salt, because that's the best way not to waste energy thinking about him," Contador said.

Replying to recent declarations by Armstrong about his way of life, the Spaniard said: "We're very different. Contrary to him, it's important to me to have my family at my side, to keep the same friends, to continue to live in the same village and to stay the same. I think he praised me when he said these things."

Asked whether he and Armstrong could one day get along, the Astana leader answered: "For my part, yes, because I am a person that doesn't want conflicts with anybody. I have no problem with a relationship of mutual respect."

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