Alberto Contador: Fuente Dé victory is “of the three most important of my career”
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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Alberto Contador: Fuente Dé victory is “of the three most important of my career”

by Ben Atkins at 3:53 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
Emotional Spanish rider takes first post-ban victory to seize control of Vuelta a España

alberto contadorIt was an emotional Alberto Contador that punched the air with both fists as he crossed the line to take the stage victory - and overall race lead - at the top of the climb to Fuente Dé. The result marked the 29-year-old’s first win since returning from the mostly retrospective two year suspension for testing positive for Clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France; there was no time to think about his trademark “Pistolero” salute as he hit the line - although one was to feature in the podium presentations - as his elation for making the top step of the podium once again.

In what was clearly a premeditated move Contador attacked across to a large breakaway group, which contained three of his teammates. He then used those teammates to build a lead over race leader Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha), before riding away alone to take the stage.

“It was simply an amazing performance by the entire team and it was part of the plan from the start of the stage,” explained Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank directeur sportif Brad McGee. “On the two first climb, Jesus Hernandez, Bruno Pires and Sergio Paulinho jumped away from the pack and the Katusha seemed stunned and then Alberto simply bridged the gap alone to his teammates and continued to the final climb where he put in an unforgettably powerful effort to stay in front and not only take the jersey but put the icing on the cake by taking the stage win as well.”

Contador himself was able to reflect upon the perfectly executed team plan after his victory, including some of the tactics used to stop his rivals from learning his secrets.

“We went very fast from the start, everyone wanted to get into the break,” he explained. “In [Collado de Ozalba] everyone was trying to catch the front group and I have told my teammates who were there, simply to go ‘full gas’ on the Collado la Hoz. I didn’t want to say anything more because the radios are hooked to computers and might have been heard by my rivals.”

“I was a bit Kamikaze to tell the truth. We’d planned to go in the last three kilometres [of the climb]. When I went the devil at my side said ‘attack!’, while the angel said ‘wait! It’s crazy, you’ll be caught!’ I preferred to risk it, and I went. A lot of people would think that I’d gone from too far out; I knew I had to try. Even though I’m not at my best, I really wanted it.”

Contador was more than two minutes clear of his rivals with 16km to go, but his margin of victory over second placed Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) - who’d used his teammates in a similar way - was only six seconds on the line.

“I was a little worried about losing my advantage in the last fifteen kilometres because I hadn’t eaten a lot,” he explained. “I was afraid that other riders could catch me.”

Contador originally won the fifth stage of the Tour de San Luis, in Argentina in late January, before it - and all of his other results since the 2010 Tour de France - was stripped. Officially therefore, today’s victory was his first since taking the Alpe d’Huez stage of the 2010 Critérium du Dauphiné.

“It’s one of the three most important of my career,” he said. “The first one was at the 2005 Tour Down Under when I resumed racing after my big accident [when he collapsed during the 2004 Vuelta a Asturias, suffering from a Cerebral Cavernoma - ed]. The second one was the 2007 Paris-Nice, which was very important to me.”

Contador now leads the Vuelta by 1’52” over Valverde, with Rodríguez now down to third, 2’28” back; with the only remaining challenge in the race being the finish on the Bola del Mundo on Saturday’s penultimate stage, he appears to have got his second victory in his home Tour all but wrapped up.

He isn’t taking anything for granted though, as he paid tribute to the rider he’s just overtaken.

“It’s not over yet but Joaquim Rodríguez must be congratulated for what he has done during this Vuelta,” said Contador. “I wasn’t able to drop him off in the steepest uphill finishes, so every day I had to think of the tactic for the next day. I’ve had to calculate not losing time, and the right spot for attacking him.”


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