Alberto Contador says that there is still plenty of time to consider his options for next season and that he has several good ones to choose between. With a new sponsor for the Tinkoff team looking increasingly unlikely, Contador is still on the hunt for a new team but, with the transfer window not set to open until August 1, he is not concerned.
However, he says that his new team will have to be willing to take on not just Contador himself but the team that surrounds him. That is likely to include his right-hand man on the bike Jesus Hernandez, press officer Jacinto Vidarte and mechanic Faustino Muñoz, plus some select others. Lampre-Merida and Trek-Segafredo have already expressed their interest in Contador for next season. With Joaquim Rodriguez yet to pen a new contract, the Katusha squad could also be an option for him.
“In these times, there is a lot of movement in the market, and they open a thousand options that we are mulling over,” he told AS. “Two months ago, I decided that I would continue in cycling because I really enjoy what I do. We have different options; the majority are very attractive. There has been contact with sponsors but the deadlines are quite late and each time an option of my own team has less weight.
“Everything points to a team that is willing to invest in me and my group. At this point, with my own team, it would not have the same guarantees that it would have a well-formed structure.”
Contador is building up towards the Criterium du Dauphiné, which is due to begin this Sunday. The weeklong event is his first race since winning the Vuelta al Pais Vasco in April and his final stage race ahead of the Tour de France next month. Since Pais Vasco, Contador has been trying to build up in strength. Earlier in the week, the Spaniard stated that the Dauphiné will let him know if he has done enough or if he has to increase his intensity before he arrives at Tour de France.
“The intention is to go for the maximum: the victory. But the rivals will also be very well prepared, and we know that it is difficult, but I they have to go with this belief,” explained Contador. “I have not had any setbacks, and I have been able to absorb the start of the season, which has been quite intense. Now starting this second peak of form and, at the moment, things are going well.”
Following the Criterium du Dauphine, Contador will ride the Spanish national championships for the first time since 2011, where he will be joined by Rodriguez and Mikel Landa (Team Sky). He is also focusing on the Olympic Games in Rio. “I like the route,” said Contador. There are few times that the Olympics and the Worlds give options to riders of my characteristics. It is after the Tour, and I will arrive in good form. It is a route for climbers, and I am motivated to prepare for it with eagerness. We can have a very potent selection.”
Post-Rio, Contador’s programme is very much up in the air. However, he still stated that a ride at the Vuelta a Espana is possible. “I see possibilities to race. It will be a tough year with what we are already taking on, now the Tour, and after I would like to be at the Olympics in Rio. Afterwards, there is very little time to prepare for the Vuelta a Espana.”
Contador last raced the Vuelta a Espana in 2014 where he beat Chris Froome by just over a minute after they both crashed out of the Tour de France. If he were able to take victory at this year’s race, it would be a record-equalling fourth after Roberto Heras was given back his fourth title after it was originally taken from him for testing positive for EPO.
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