Alberto Contador: Vuelta route “gives spectacle and what people want”
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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Alberto Contador: Vuelta route “gives spectacle and what people want”

by Ben Atkins at 5:40 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
2008 and 2012 winner may return to his home race in 2014 but Tour de France has priority

alberto contadorAlberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) was not present at the presentation of the 2014 Vuelta a España route, as he was at his team’s first training camp of the year, but the winner of the 2008 and 2012 editions of the race appreciated what he saw. The 31-year-old Spaniard - who rode with his teammates in blank cycling kit from supplier Sportful pending the official launch of the new Tinkoff-Saxo livery - confirmed that he may well be on the start line of his home tour on August 23rd, but the number one priority remains an attempt to win a third Tour de France.

“I think that has followed the format of recent years, which is what gives spectacle and what people want,” he said of the three-week Spanish race. “The balance is in favour of the pure climbers. It is true that there are many up hill finishes, especially if we think on the bonuses, which are assuming great importance in recent years.”

The most iconic images of Contador’s Grand Tour victories are of the Spanish rider dancing on the pedals on climbs such as his race-winning attack to Verbier, Switzerland, in 2009. His victories in the mountains have all been backed up by strong rides in the time trials, however - as evidenced by his surprise victory over then Olympic TT champion Fabian Cancellara - and, while he has lacked the same devastating climbing power in recent years, his second place to Chris Froome in last year’s final stage against the clock - just nine seconds behind the eventual Tour winner - shows that this continues to be the case.

With a team time trial opening the Vuelta, a rolling 34.5km individual stage in the middle of the race, and a flat ten kilometre blast on the final day, however, the kilometres against the clock will not have the same impact as in previous years.

“Concerning the time trials, in the first there will be not many differences,” Contador opined. “The second also favours climbers, because it starts with a climb and that will do minimal differences, and the last is only 10 kilometres long, but can always help if you are in a few seconds. You never know.”

On paper, the course should suit Contador’s strengths, but the Tinkoff-Saxo captain’s main priority of the season will be the Tour de France, as he explained.

“If I have legs, of course I like it,” Contador said. “You must be aware that it will be the second big tour after the Tour de France, that I want to do at hundred percent. For me it is unknown what my performance will be in the Vuelta after riding the Tour.”

The 2014 Vuelta will include eight mountaintop finishes, which is four fewer than in 2013. With a less explosive kick than many of his key rivals - like compatriots Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) - however, the two-time Tour de France winner favours the more steady climbs against the short, sharp ones.

“It is even harder from the point of view that has many finishes that are even longer than those in 2012 and that encourages me because it's not as explosive,” he said, “because more explosive riders can always take time on me in one kilometre with a high percentage gradient... but it all depends on the legs you have.”

Contador’s season will begin a little later than last year, skipping the Tour de San Luis in favour of a February start, as he focuses on achieving the right form for the Tour de France. The Spanish rider is currently training on Gran Canaria with his team, and confident that things are currently going to plan.

“I am here enjoying the lovely weather and I have a calmer, more organised preparation than last year,” Contador said. “Things are going pretty well, I have to keep working, doing my best and I hope that can be noticed during the season.

“I’m encouraged not only by how I look now,” he added, “but because I am always an optimistic person who enjoys what he does. It's nothing new.”


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