With the Tour de France start in Utrecht just a few days away, Alberto Contador has told Spanish newspaper El País that “When I hear people say the Giro d’Italia-Tour de France double is impossible, it motivates me even more.”
Contador has been named as team leader for Tinkoff-Saxo and will have vital support from a team of veterans that includes Ivan Basso, Roman Kreuziger, Michael Rogers and Matteo Tosatto. Peter Sagan is also in the team. He will target stage victories but may have to sacrifice hopes of winning another green points jersey to help Contador complete his Giro-Tour double.
Already the winner of the Giro d’Italia in May, Contador is aiming to become the first rider since Marco Pantani in 1998 to take both Grand Tours in the same year. Should Contador win the Tour, there would be an eight-year margin between his first victory and 2015. That gap is second only to the time between Gino Bartali’s two Tour de France triumphs, which were taken ten years apart in 1948 and 1958.
“I hope I can do that,” Contador said. “I’ve been looking at the type of riders who have been with me on different [Grand Tour] podiums, from time triallists like Cadel Evans to climbers like Andy Schleck, more recent appearances like Chris Froome and now younger riders who are coming through. That’s three generations. That I’ve been able to remain a favourite since 2007 fills me with pride.”
Contador would be becoming the eighth rider in history to complete professional cycling’s toughest double.
“It’s a personal challenge and a big dream. The Tour is the most important race, the one that changes your life and I can vouch for that. Until you win it, you don’t really realise how important it is, but on the other hand one more Tour victory more - or one less - would not make my career more memorable,” he explained.
“On the other hand, if I won the Giro-Tour, it would be something everybody would remember for a long time. It will be really hard. But I’m doing absolutely everything to recover as well as I can do, every hour, every minute, every day to be there in the best condition. Then I will see if I can get it because it is not just a physical challenge, above all it’s a mental one. And then the race has to go well…but [as for the] people who are convinced that it is impossible, that just motivates me even more.”
However Contador does not see himself as the leading favourite to win the Tour. He argued that the four top contenders for the Tour –Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana, Vincenzo Nibali and himself, are all “at a very similar level right now. Speaking from my past experiences with him, even if there’s no long time trial, I would say Froome stands out [as favourite],” he said.
During the recent Route du Sud stage race, which Contador won ahead of Quintana, he revealed that his “legs were still hurting [from the Giro] until a couple of days ago. He said: “It was a very demanding race, particularly the last week. But in the last few days, the pain has finally gone and that motivates me even more.”
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