Contador's typically gung-ho racing style has made it almost a given that he will be leading the assault on the overall lead of BMC Racing's Tejay van Garderen. But Contador's statement made it plain that he doesn't feel it's up to just him to make the running on the Volta's fifth - and most crucial -stage of seven.
"It's not just up to me, others will have to try to attack as well," Contador told reporters after stage four to Igualada, which he raced through without any significant incidents.
"But it's going to be tricky, there are a lot of riders in a very small span of time on GC, a lot of them riders we knew would be key rivals - they're all there. It makes it harder to know which strategy to adopt.
"Let's see what kind of weather it is, too, because if it rains then that changes things again. Then depending on how I'm feeling on the last climb, I'll take it one way or another."
Previously known as Mont Caro, stage 5's final ascent has been rebaptised Lo Port in this year's Volta, a word which means, somewhat confusingly, ‘the climb’ in the local dialect version of Catalan, Catalunya’s language.
Lo Port or Mont Caro was last tackled in the Volta in 1991, with victory going to Colombian climbing star Lucho Herrera in an edition of the race finally won by Spanish great Miguel Indurain.
Overlooking the Mediterranean coast, Lo Port is 8.6 kilometres long, and after a draggy uphill section of nine kilometres and relatively easy average gradients of one of two percent. But on a stage which is 182 kilometres long and where the weather is forecast to be rough, that may well start the first big sort out.
Then the official climb begins. The first part of Lo Port is a comparatively benign average slope of six percent to six and a half percent, but it then suddenly steepens rearing up to a much tougher 10.5 percent in the third kilometre. From there on are no false flats, either, just a steady slog to the summit on twisting, narrow roads that are said to be in poor condition and peppered with challenging hairpin bends. From the nearby town of Tortosa, which is at sea level and where the road really begins to rise, all the way to the summit, the total of vertical climbing over 22 kilometres is a daunting 1,000 metres.
Should it rain, too - as is forecast, the climb will be even harder, and when the race runs across the exposed flatlands of the Ebro Delta just before the ascent, strong winds could create echelons even before the bunch reaches the climb.
Faced with such a daunting climb and such a broad set of rivals still in contention, Contador, seventh overall at 1-13, is logically cautious about his chances. "I knew before I came to Catalunya that if we didn't do a good team time trial it could get very tricky overall for me, but let's see what happens," he concluded.
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.