Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) has confirmed that he will not be taking part in the 2015 Vuelta a España and so will not go for the triple Grand Tour challenge, and will instead focus on the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France double in 2015.
Tinkoff-Saxo team owner Oleg Tinkov provocatively proposed that the current ‘Big Four’ of Grand Tour racing: Contador, Chris Froome (Team Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), take part in all three Grand Tours in 2015, offering a million Euro between them if they took up his challenge. However with Nibali ruling the idea out completely, and Froome openly saying there is a question mark over his participation in the Tour de France, Contador also seems unwilling to take up Tinkov's challenge.
“On paper, the plan I have, is to do the Giro and the Tour and I think that’s a tough enough challenge,” Contador told Spanish radio station Cadena Cope in a telephone interview from Africa as he climbs the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro with his his Tinkoff-Saxo teammates.
“I know that at some point this (doing the Giro-Tour double) could possibly undermine my options in the Tour, but (the Giro) is a race that inspires me and which I like a lot.”
Suffering on Mount Kilimanjaro
The aims of the Tinkoff-Saxo trip to Mount Kilimanjaro is to help new riders in the team integrate with the rest of the squad, and Contador confirmed he was getting on well with, new arrival Peter Sagan.
He also revealed that the weather conditions for the expedition, the 80 riders and staff, plus their sherpa and guides, spent Monday night sleeping in tents at 4000-metres above sea level, have so far been difficult.
“It’s maybe six degrees out there, but also foggy and windy which makes the temperature feel even lower,” Contador said. “It’s been raining heavily, some people have headaches or fever because the altitude and the tents aren’t really ideal.”
“We’ve barely had time to think because we’re so busy putting up tents, trying to dry out clothing, getting everything sorted out. It’s all pretty tough going,” - particularly when combined with climbing up the mountain. “It shouldn’t be that hard, but we’ve been very unlucky with the weather and that means it’s not so straightforward.”
The last part of the ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro is set for Tuesday and early Wednesday, with an ascent on foot of 800 metres, to 4800-metres their first challenge. Following three hours of sleep, the expedition will then have a night climb of the final 1,100 metres to the summit of Africa’s highest mountain, the idea being to get there in time to see the dawn sun rise. After that, the expedition returns to base camp - and home. Soon after riders will begin their training for the 2015 season.
Check out the photo gallery and update from the Tinkoff-Saxo team team building camp on Mount Kilimanjaro here.
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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