Contador believes he can do Tour/Vuelta double in 2014, claims lack of training base affected this season
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Contador believes he can do Tour/Vuelta double in 2014, claims lack of training base affected this season

by Shane Stokes at 2:50 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Vuelta a España
 
Spaniard pledges to improve his condition for next year’s campaign

Alberto ContadorAlthough he was below his usual level this year and had to be satisfied with fourth in the Tour de France, Alberto Contador has said that he believes that he can win both the Tour and the Vuelta a España next season.

The Spaniard was speaking today at the announcement in Madrid that Saxo Bank would step up its financial commitment to cover the shortfall created by Tinkoff Bank’s decision not to stay on board next year.

He said that he was fired up to get back to his former level and that he would ride both Grand Tours with the intention of topping the podium in both.

“Of course this year had less results than other years. It has been an accumulation of different factors. The programme wasn’t the best one,” Contador admitted, stating that the lack of a solid base may have worked against him.

“I started racing in January without all the training I needed. When you do that, you can get to a good level, but you don’t get to the level that you can win all the races.

“We will wait and see what happens in 2014. I will say I have extra motivation to try to achieve the objectives that I want.”

In the past, Contador has taken long breaks from the bike when the season ends. However that may have backfired in 2013; he began racing in the Tour de San Luis in January, winning a stage, but didn’t take any other victories after that point.

His identification of a lack of a solid base as one possible reason for his drop in form will necessitate a different approach next season. He’ll need to put in a sufficient amount of training before starting to compete, making sure the right foundation is there.

If he does things right, he believes he can be strong in both the Tour and the Spanish event.

“The Vuelta is a race that really brings great memories to me. It is a race that gave me many, many things, and is a race of my country,” he said, when asked if he would ride.

“Independently of how the Tour de France goes, unless there is anything unexpected, I am going to be at the Vuelta and I hope I have a good race.”

Contador is the last rider to win two Grand Tours in one season, taking the Giro and Vuelta double in 2008. He made clear today that he thinks its possible to do a different double in 2014, even though the Tour and the Vuelta are closer together and would require a fast recovery.

“I do think it is possible because these are compatible victories,” he insisted. “Of course it will depend on the layout of the race. Also on the strength of team supporting me, that it is a fresh team. If I didn’t think it was possible to do it in both races, I would go for just one.”

Ignoring Tinkoff criticism, playing down Alonso talk:

Contador was criticised as overpaid and undertrained in July by Russian businessman Oleg Tinkov, who backed the team via his Tinkoff Bank company. He withdrew his co-sponsorship as a result of what he felt was a sub-standard Tour de France performance, but Saxo Bank today indicated that it would step up its commitment to cover the drop in budget.

Asked how he dealt with the criticism of Tinkov, Contador played down the importance of the comments.

There has been no problem for me. It didn’t influence me in my work,” he said. “I didn’t even know what was said. Sometimes you hear from here and there what was said, but honestly I didn’t pay any attention to that.”

If Contador is to take the Tour de France title next season, he and Team Saxo Bank will need to beat defending champion Chris Froome’s Sky squad. Riis was asked today what his team would need to do to raise its level in order to achieve that goal; he suggested Froome’s triumph was more due to an individual rather than a collective performance.

“This year I don’t think Team Sky had the strongest team, but they had the strongest rider,” he stated. He then pointed out that there was no guarantee that Froome’s level of this year would necessary follow over into 2014, pointing out the 2012 winner had a drop in form this season.

“I think for many teams the preparation is different for year to year. I think we could also see that with Wiggins who won two years ago. Who knows? Maybe Froome will be the same next year…we don’t know.

“We have our focus is on our team and what we have to do. This is what we need to have focus on.”

Both he and Contador dismissed rumours that Samuel Sanchez might move to the team, saying that while they valued him as a rider, that no discussions had been held.

Contador also shrugged off suggestions that he could move to Fernando Alonso’s planned team in the future. He admitted it was an interesting idea, but said he wanted to focus on his current contract.

“There has been much news in the press about possibilities. If course there has been news about Alonso creating a cycling team. That would be an excellent piece of news for people following cycling,” he said.

“Now my relationship and my contact is with Saxo Bank. There is no team better than the Saxo team. It is true longer term that it [a move to the Alonso project] could be a nice possibility but, as of today, for the next two years, my relationship is with Saxo.”

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