Alberto Contador confirms participation in la Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège
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Monday, April 15, 2013

Alberto Contador confirms participation in la Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège

by Ben Atkins at 10:29 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège , Flèche Wallonne
 
“The idea is to test my condition and increase the chances of my team,” says Tour de France favourite

alberto contadorAlberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) has confirmed that he has taken the decision to start la Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège this week, after a satisfactory week of training. The Spanish rider has been complaining of fatigue since falling ill during Tirreno-Adriatico in mid-March but, having sat out Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race, he has proclaimed himself ready for the two Belgian races.

“This last week has been dedicated primarily to rest,” said Contador, “because I needed it, and I've only done two longer trainings, looking for the endurance you need for  these races. The idea is to test my condition and increase the chances of my team.”

Contador confirmed that he is still feeling “a little tired” after a busy early season.

“I started riding in the second week of January in Argentina [at the Tour de San Luis - ed] and I can feel  the fatigue,” he explained.

Contador finished third in the 2010 edition of la Flèche Wallonne [and finished 11th in 2011 before being retrospectively disqualified due to his 2010 Tour de France clenbuterol positive - ed] and was ninth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège a few days later. As a climber with a powerful kick, la Flèche especially should suit the 30-year-old’s strengths but, with his big target months away he is wary of doing too much too soon.

“Saxo-Tinkoff wanted me to be here and, of course, they are races that everyone likes to ride, but in preparing for the Tour de France it’s perhaps better to miss them,” he said. “But I only have to extend my competition schedule by another week, so I'll try to do the best I can. Then I will take a holiday before starting my preparation for the Tour.”

Having been feeling the fatigue of such an early start to his season, Contador has waited until the last minute to decide on his Flèche and Liège participation, as he explained.

“Because I wanted to do two training rides at the end of the week to see if the legs were recovered, because to go unrecovered was not a good idea,” he said. “These training rides were not anything special, but I have a good level so why not try?”

After several riders crashed in the Amstel Gold Race, and others were not as strong as expected, Contador doesn’t know exactly who the favourite will be; but he certainly knows which riders will be ones to watch on the final battle up the Mur de Huy.

“There are several, but I don’t exactly know the start list,” he said. “If I had to point out someone for la Flèche Wallonne, I would say Joaquim Rodríguez. I think in recent years he has finished second twice and first once, and that's not by accident.

“In one second level would place [Philippe] Gilbert and [Alejandro] Valverde,” he continued. “I’d also I put them down for Liège, plus [Peter] Sagan if he is actually there. After them there is a group of riders who can be there depending on how the races develop, because we are not so fast. We must find an opportunity.”

Ordinarily Contador might be the undisputed captain of Saxo Tinkoff going into the Ardennes Classics but, after teammate Roman Kreuziger won the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, the Spaniard will have the less pressurised role as co-leader.

“In these races I will not be the single leader, because we have many riders with options,” he confirmed. “Roman Kreuziger is very strong now and is well suited to these races. I will be one more in the team.”

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