Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) will make his debut at the Tour of Beijing this month as he looks to end the season at the top of the WorldTour rankings. Contador has never ridden the Chinese race before, but with only 14 points separating himself and Alejandro Valverde, every point counts.
“Everybody likes to be number one by the end of the year,” said Contador. “I’m already very happy with leading the individual rankings right now, especially after failing to get any points at the Tour. But we have to keep in mind that I have very strong rivals, especially Alejandro Valverde, who’s very good at maintaining a strong shape during the season. He will be very difficult to beat.”
Contador won the inaugural WorldTour in 2009, beating Valverde by 44 points. He shot to the top of this year’s rankings after taking victory at the Vuelta a España last month. He chose to skip the world championships at the weekend in favour of resting up, but returned to racing at Wednesday’s Milano-Torino where he finished sixth.
“After the Vuelta a España, I’ve basically dedicated most of my time to rest because I finished the race really tired," Contador said. “I have done some longer training rides these last few days, but I don’t know exactly how I will feel, when we’re deep into the race.”
With 100 points available at both Lombardia and Beijing, plus six points for individual stages in China, it is still all to play for. Valverde is yet to announce his post-world championship calendar. However, his wife gave birth to a daughter last week, which could play a factor in him choosing not to go to Beijing.
Spain has dominated the WorldTour rankings since their inception in 2009, with Philippe Gilbert the only non-Spanish rider to win it in 2011. Spain and Movistar are also set to take victory in the team and national rankings also.
The Tour of Beijing runs from October 10-14, it will be the last running of the race after the UCI chose not to renew its contract with the organisers.