Ahead of the presentation of the 2016 Tour de France route, Alberto Contador said the length of the time trials would be key to determining whether or not the race would suit him. After finding out that the time trials are a rolling 37km stage 13 to La Caverne du Pont-d'Arc and the uphill 17km time trial from Sallanches to Megeve, Contador declared the route one for the climbers.
"Next year's parcours appears to be very difficult and one has to start in good form because the fifth stage already has a fairly demanding finish," Contador said of the hilly stage to the ski resort at Le Lioran. "The two time trials stand out and are probably the ones that make the difference from the 2015 parcours. Both time trials are tough, the first one not excessively long and therefore I like them both."
In addition to the individual time trials, there are nine mountain stages with four summit finishes - stage 9 to Andorre Arcalis, stage 12 atop Mont Ventoux, stage 17 to Finhaut-Emosson and Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc on stage 19.
"The mountain stages are evenly spread out from start to finish and you will have to manage your forces very well in order not to reach the final stages worn out. Is it a Tour for climbers? Yes, it is, although last year's Tour was even more since it didn't have so many time trials. It clearly is a course well suited to the profile of climbers."
Contador is considering retirement after the 2016 season but hinted that he might keep racing if he runs out of luck in the Tour de France next year. While the route appeals to him, he's been well acquainted with the fickle hand of fate that controls Grand Tour contenders.
"Overall, it is a parcours that I like, but as it is well known with the Grand Tours, it can turn against you at any moment. Without any doubt, it can be a nice and attractive Tour and I will prepare for it one hundred percent."
Tinkoff-Saxo director Steven de Jongh said it was too early to decide upon a plan for the 2016 Tour de France but thinks the stage 13 time trial could be tricky.
"Stage 12 to Mont Ventoux will naturally provide a stunning backdrop to a very difficult stage, where the heat and wind can play a pivotal role. But what is also interesting is the 37km time trial the day after to the Gorges de l'Ardéche and the riders have to tackle it with Ventoux still fresh in the legs," De Jongh said.
"The second individual time trial on stage 18 is shorter but it's almost uphill the entire time and it's followed by two hard mountain stages to conclude the general classification. The plan is naturally to go for the win with Alberto but it's too early to go into any specifics with more than eight months to the start in Mont Saint-Michel. We will have to study the parcours in detail and evaluate our strategy in due time."