Alberto Contador may have marked the wrong man when he chose to follow the wheel of Chris Froome (Sky) on the downhill run to the finish of stage 3 at the Vuelta a España but the Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank leader insists his focus lies in Madrid - when the tour wraps up on 9 September.
"It was a shame not to get the stage win but the goal is in Madrid and I before the stage started I would have been more than happy with this result," Contador told Europa Press.
Contador said he was "happy with the feelings" after he rode to a fourth place in Alto de Arrate. The former Vuelta champion attacked numerous times but could do little to rattle the day’s winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). He did however, distance contenders Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto Belisol) and Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM).
"You hope that in this first mountain stage, the race stays calm, because will get better every day," Lotto team manager Herman Frison told Sporza. "But that was clearly not the case, because the four big favorites opened the game."
Van Den Broeck lost 3:23 and finished in 70th place while De Gendt came in 2:07 down on the Valverde and Contador group. The Lotto Belisol rider and his team have placed little pressure on Van Den Broeck but believe that his race is not completely lost.
"Jurgen didn’t feel good and could not go with the second group. Hopefully he will be better in the coming days. He is not overly disappointed because there are still many opportunities for stage wins," Frison said.
Contador had a brief but impressive lead up to the start of the grand tour in Pamplona; finishing fourth overall at the seven-stage Eneco Tour. Eneco was his first race back following his doping suspension and while the gap to the second group was contained, it was a sign of relief for the upcoming stages.
"It is only the third stage and there are going to be riders who find it harder to follow attacks. I'm sure as the Euskaltel riders will be fighting for victory. I'm happy with the result, the legs were going well and that's the most important thing," said Contador