Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) says that his successful return to racing at the Route du Sud last week has little bearing on his preparation for the Tour de France. The race was Contador’s first since winning the Giro d’Italia in May and, rather than trying to fly under the radar, the overall victory is a warning shot to his rivals that the Italian grand tour hasn’t dampened his aggression. He’s reluctant to get ahead of himself, though, and says that the next two weeks will be business as usual.
"I'm happy with this victory at the Route du Sud but this doesn't change anything in view of the Tour de France,” Contador said after he sealed the overall victory on Sunday. “It would be a mistake to change the mind-set right now, thinking that this win would give me more confidence.
“We still have another 13 days until the start of the Tour de France and I will keep my focus on my preparation, in order to reach the start in the best shape possible.”
While many of the Tour de France contenders were racing elsewhere, Contador chose the lesser-trodden path of the Route du Sud for his preparation. The four-day French race allowed him a two-week break following the Giro d’Italia, significantly longer than he would have enjoyed had he gone to the Critérium du Dauphiné or the Tour de Suisse. After a promising start to the race, the Spaniard put himself into contention for the overall win on stage three with his attack on the Port de Balès.
Bonus seconds included, he went into the final day with a 17-second lead over Nairo Quintana (Movistar), though the Colombian looked like he was keeping his powder dry for his bigger goal next month.
Contador was full of praise for his team after the win: “It was a hot day and it was about controlling the race and defending our position. The entire team worked hard and I'd like to thank everybody for their effort. I feel proud of them,” he said.
The team have echoed the thoughts of their leader in their reluctance to take too much from Contador’s success. "We came with two main objectives, to win the queen stage and have a good GC position. Alberto won both the stage and the race, so it is a result that satisfies us,” said Tinkoff-Saxo directeur sportif Patxi Vila.
“Alberto was in good shape and, hopefully, he will keep his form until the Tour. However, it is still too early and we expect his rivals to be strong. His victory is the result of a very hard and dedicated work by the entire squad, especially in the two last stages."