Contador upbeat about season prospects: ‘The head and body are working well’
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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Contador upbeat about season prospects: ‘The head and body are working well’

by VeloNation Press at 1:12 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Spaniard outlines season programme, Riis says team’s top rider is stronger than last season

Alberto ContadorHeading into a season which will be crucial for his chances of winning the Tour de France again, Alberto Contador has expressed optimism about both his condition and his prospects.

It is now three and a half years since he took overall victory in Paris in 2009, with the following year’s win having been lost due to his Clenbuterol positive. Now 31 years of age, the Spaniard will be aware that he needs to turn things around in cycling’s biggest race, with his fourth place last year some way off his previous form.

“My primary goal will be the Tour de France,” Contador said at today’s launch of the 2014 Tinkoff Saxo squad.

“I feel good. The head and the body are working well. As a team we’re heading in a good direction, and if we keep on working hard then we’ll see what happens.”

The team’s former owner Bjarne Riis sold the squad to the Russian Oleg Tinkov and consequently expects to be more hands-on with the team this season. Tinkov has made clear that Riis’ top responsibility is to ensure that Contador wins a third Tour de France, having been critical of the Spaniard’s efforts last July.

“I’m feeling really good about it,” said Riis, talking about the change in ownership. “It’s good for the team and it’s good for Oleg. And I have to say during the process Oleg has been great. I have a lot of respect for that and I really look forward to this partnership. It’ll be different for me but it’s great because he wants to do his best for the team.”

He’s monitoring Contador closely and while the rider is starting racing a month later this year, Riis says that his condition is already ahead off what it was twelve months ago.

“We hope Alberto is ready for the top. He seems strong and is going well, and hopefully something happens at the Tour and the Vuelta,” he said. “He’s definitely stronger than last year and we have a powerful team around him.”

Contador blamed his lack of form in last year’s Tour on a lack of a big foundation base, with only a few weeks of training coming before he lined out in the Tour de San Luis in January 2013. He’ll deliberately wait until mid-February to get going, pinning on a number for the first time on the 19th of the month.

“I’ll begin with the Tour of Algarve in February,” said Contador, sketching out his programme for the season. “I’ll then race Tirreno-Adriatico, followed by the Volta a Catalunya and then the Vuelta al Pais Vasco in April. I’ll have a break before coming back for the Dauphiné in June, followed by the Tour and the Vuelta [a Espana].

“The atmosphere is very good [on the team]. We have a very good feeling. We’re a close group and everyone’s clear what the main objectives are. I also think the new kit is beautiful. It really stands out.”

That kit was unveiled today and sees the team take an early grip on yellow, albeit in the symbolic sense. The predominance of that colour signals a clear intent to win the Tour, taking the fight to defending champion Chris Froome’s Sky team plus the other contenders.

That race is still six months away but Contador, Roman Kreuziger – who was fifth overall last year, one place behind his team leader – and Nicolas Roche are already building towards July. They will remain on Gran Canaria until later this month, working hard with an eye towards their goals.

However, while the Tour is the first major target for Contador, both Kreuziger and Roche are aiming to hit form sooner. Kreuziger won the Amstel Gold Race last year and wants to do so again, while Roche has said that his aim is to be in top shape by the time the Giro d’Italia starts in Ireland.

“We don’t have huge riders for the Flemish Classics but we have good outsiders in Daniele Bennati and Roman Kruzeiger,” said Riis. “How far we can go we don’t know. But for the Ardennes Classics, we have a very strong team, and are looking for some good results, including victories.”


See a gallery of the new team kit here

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