Despite his defeat to Chris Froome at the Vuelta a Andalucia, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) has declared himself pleased with his early season condition and confirmed that he will stick to his planned race programme as he builds towards an attempt at the Giro d’Italia-Tour de France double.
Contador dropped Froome to win atop the Alto de Hazallanas on Friday but then conceded his overall lead on the following day’s summit finish at Allanadas, ultimately losing out by two seconds.
“The truth is that I’m very pleased with the result in terms of position because for me it was unexpected,” Contador told Biciciclismo. “And regarding my condition, I’m right where I want to be.”
Contador will ride just two more races before the Giro, Tirreno-Adriatico (March 11-17) and the Volta a Catalunya (March 23-29), meaning that he will go 40 days without racing ahead of the Grande Partenza in Sanremo on May 9. He admitted that the route of Paris-Nice was more to his liking than Tirreno-Adriatico, but confirmed that he will return to Italy to defend his title.
“Paris-Nice suits me much better but we made a plan from the beginning with Tirreno and we will continue with it,” Contador said. “This year Tirreno is perhaps less suitable for me, the mountains aren’t as hard and riding for victory will be more complicated. And the Volta a Catalunya has no time trial and I don’t think the summit finishes are too demanding. But they will be the races that give me the speed I can’t get from training alone.”
The 40 days between the Volta a Catalunya and the Giro, Contador said, will begin with a short rest period before a lengthy training camp with the bulk of the team that will support him in Italy. He envisages a similar timetable for the 33-day lay-off between the Giro and Tour. In the event that he manages to pull off the Giro-Tour double, Contador downplayed the prospect of adding the Vuelta a España to his programme in an attempt to become the first rider in history to win all three Grand Tours in one season.
“No, no, no. It’s a decision I’ve thought about many times. It would be the only opportunity of my life but you have to think with your head and be aware that doing the Giro and Tour is something many people consider impossible. Not me, but I know it’s very, very difficult to win them both. In that sense, we haven’t contemplated it [riding the Vuelta] and we have planned the season around the Giro and the Tour.”
Contador last week intimated that he was considering retirement at the end of the 2016 season but of more immediate concern is his destination at the end of the current campaign, when his existing contract with Tinkoff-Saxo expires. A decision on his future, he said, is likely to be taken sooner rather than later.
“Because in the end, whether I decide to stay here or go somewhere else, the team must be organised in its entirety. I can’t say in August that I’m going to another team because it would have to reorganise everything. So it’s a decision that I have to take before the Giro,” he said, noting that “the most likely option is to continue here.”
In a separate interview with AS published on Tuesday, meanwhile, Contador added that while he will not ride for Spain at this year’s World Championships, he is not ruling out participating at the Rio 2016 Olympics. “I will look more closely at the route. I’ve already been with Specialized as far as the statue of Christ The Redeemer, which is the first part of the climb.”