Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) is convinced that he can turn in a solid time trial in the Vuelta a Espana on Friday, although the Spanish Grand Tour specialist said that he had no real idea of how he will handle the 37km race against the clock from Xavia to Calp.
"I will try to recover as best I can. Today [stage 18] didn't really show what kind of condition I'm in, although on stage 17 things went very well," Contador said in a brief statement to the media after the bunch sprint into the coastal resort of Gandia.
"One thing is certain, I'm feeling very motivated."
Fourth overall, Contador is currently five seconds off the podium behind Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange), and is 4:02 behind overall leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar). The Spaniard has already said several times earlier this week that rather than fighting for the podium, he is still keen to try for the overall win.
In either case, Contador said that the stage to Gandia had "hardly been a transition stage; there was a lot of climbing and it was very stressful close to the front." But having reached the finish line in the main bunch in 51st place - watched by team boss Oleg Tinkoff, who has turned up to the Vuelta for the last few days - Contador is now ready to take on a time trial that will prove a key factor in his final position in Madrid.
Contador beat Quintana in a time trial earlier this season, in the Vuelta al País Vasco, but the course was far hillier and much shorter. In his last Grand Tour time trial, the 59.5km time trial in the Giro d'Italia in 2015, Contador finished third, en route to overall victory.
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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