Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) riding his first Tour de France since 2011 says he doesn't buy in to the theory that Sky's dominance over the 100th edition of the Grande Boucle is assured, warning that he's ready to light up the race.
Contador and Chris Froome both name each other as the rider to beat at the Tour de France, which begins on Saturday on the island of Corsica, however the Spaniard said that anyone expecting a repeat of the type of performance Team Sky put in last season – where Bradley Wiggins rarely if ever looked under threat – will be disappointed.
"I've no intention of being a conformist in this race. Not in the slightest," he told The Independent.
Much has been made of the so-called predictability of Sky's racing style but Contador said that there was only so much that you could plan for and that the parcours of this year's Tour, without as much focus on time trials, would also have a considerable bearing on any race tactics.
"Cycling is not all about mathematics," he said. "You have to see what your rivals are doing. Fortunately, we're not machines and circumstances inside a race can change so fast. This sport isn't one that you can control as easily as others. This Tour, in particular, could continue to be wide-open right up until the final mountain top finish at Annecy on the second last day."
The last occasion that Contador and Froome went head-to-head in a grand tour was at last year's Vuelta a España where the former was returning from his ban for clenbuterol. Contador and Saxo-Tinkoff won that battle with Froome fourth overall and over 10 minutes down. The pair's last meeting was at the Critérium du Dauphiné earlier this month, where Froome reigned supreme, Contador 10th overall a position solidified with a poor result in the time trial.
"I would split my season into two parts," Contador said, "in the first part, aiming for my first peak of form, things didn't really work out as I wanted, although it's also true that I planned things out differently to other years, and with a much stronger team I was no longer under such pressure to win.
"I then started to build things up at the Critérium du Dauphiné and I was actually happy with how it went. I got stronger and stronger as the race went on and I'm now, form-wise, where I want to be."
Contador believes that the line-up selected for Saxo-Tinkoff is "way stronger" than anything assembled previously with Michael Rogers, Roman Kreuziger, Nicolas Roche, Matteo Tosatto, Daniele Bennati, Sergio Paulinho, Jesus Hernandez and Benjamin Noval all in support. Unconcerned with form-guide or labels of favouritism, the 30-year-old has just one thing in mind when it comes to the 2013 Tour de France.
"I'm going to be thinking about winning it," he said.
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