Alberto Contador says he has yet to rule out taking part the 2016 Vuelta a Espana, but that “I have to take a decision using my head, not my heart” - meaning that with such a tough summer ahead of him, “it will be very difficult to combine that with the other objectives of the season. But it’s my country’s Grand Tour and that matters too.”
Speaking after the Vuelta a España 2016 route was formally published in Santiago de Compostela, the Spaniard has also revealed that although he is “focussed on the Tour de France,” 2016 is the last year of the Tinkoff squad, “and I’d like them to end the season as number one team in the UCI [WorldTour] teams rankings. I want this to be a really good year for the team and for me.”
As for the route itself, Contador said “it’s a very similar kind of format to other years, the top names overall will have to be fighting for the general classification right from the word go.”
“There are a lot of hard stages, although the stage to the Aubisque” - the hardest of the 2013 route - “could be very good for riders like me.” On the downside, he argued, “the time bonuses and really steep uphill finishes aren’t good for me.”
Contador predicted “tension right up until the last minute of the race, because the Olympic Games” - together with the Tour de France, a target for virtually every GC rider in the peloton right now, including Contador - “can take their toll and after three weeks of racing, riders may well be paying a price for that at the end of the Vuelta.”
As for his possible participation and a crack at a fourth Vuelta a España victory in as many participations, Contador is very cautious. “Taking part is not ruled out, but I have to think with my head as well as with my heart.”
The 2016 Vuelta route is peppered with summit finishes from start to finish. Director Javier Guillen argued that “that’s the Vuelta trademark, what makes it special. It’s got fewer transfers, which is better for the riders, but it’s a Vuelta [with numerous summit finishes] that is like the ones we’ve had in the last few years. TV audience shares show these kinds of routes are what the public like the best.”
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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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