Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) revealed that he wanted more than victory at Tirreno-Adriatico - after his problems of 2013, he was looking for a confirmation that he was back to his best. He got it, beating his rivals by minutes rather than just seconds.
Contador finished behind Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and teammate Roman Kreuziger in the 9.1km time trial but still won overall by more than two minutes after his dominant stage victories on the two mountain stages. His 2:05 gap on Quintana was the largest winning margin seen at Tirreno-Adriatico for many years, while Kreuziger was third overall at 2:14.
"I came here to win and I honestly thought the seconds I'd lost in team time trial and on stage three would be important, so I'm very happy to have won and won well," he explained.
"It's true, I wanted to do something special. On the team bus before the mountain stage, I said that if could, I'd attack alone and try to make it to finish. I wanted to do it because I think it's what people want to see. There have been a lot of crowds at Tirreno-Adriatico and I think everyone likes to see exciting racing.
"It's not easy to do because you might not have the legs or the chance to do it. I was happy with my uphill stage win on stage four and my happiness was multiplied three or four times when I won again."
When asked if it was a sign of comeback, Contador's pride emerged, with him preferring to describe it as a confirmation of all the hard work done in training, rather than a comeback.
"For me it's confirmation that my training and numbers are accurate," he said. "I've been putting my body through some hard work and so I'm happy to transform it into a victory. That's what I needed."
Contador made a point of thanking his Tinkoff-Saxo teammates and team owner Oleg Tinkov. He also revealed more about his new relationship with coach Steven De Jongh and why he teamed up with the former Team Sky directeur sportif.
"He was working with my teammate Sergio Paulinho and he suggested it could be a good thing to train with him," Contador explained.
"We've spoken every day since November and the feelings are very good. There have been some changes but not big changes. It's about tiny details, not only with Steven. It's what the team needs: not just 100% but 200% in order to win. He's been supervising my training and I'm very happy with the work we've done together."
More to come at the Volta a Catalunya
Contador acknowledged during a video interview that his form is very good but warned that there is more to come.
"I think I'm at a very good level but I think we need to stay calm and carry on working and go better and better. I've got a lot of motivation. Now the most important thing is to recover well and we'll see what happens in Catalunya next week."
Contador will go come up against Chris Froome and other Grand Tour contenders in the Catalan stage race. With his morale sky high, he seems up for a fight and a hard race.
"I think that's good. It's good for people who like cycling," he said. "If the only important races are the big Tours, then the final outcome is very sure. I think next week will be incredible at the Vuelta a Catalunya."
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.
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