Contador discusses Astana team changes and his preperation for the 2010 Tour de France
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Friday, January 01, 2010

Contador discusses Astana changes and 2010 preparation

by Steve Jones at 11:07 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 

Two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador has already begun his preparation for the defence of his 2009 Tour crown. He begins the new year without the chaos of an unstable team situation, and is now able to focus completely on the job at hand - winning the 2010 Tour de France. In the midst of the off-season turmoil, Contador saw the whole of the Astana 2009 Tour de France team head to Lance Armstrong's new RadioShack squad. And while Astana's new face won't see the marquee names from 2009 riding for him in July, he is full of confidence about his team believing they will prove to be 'powerful and highly competitive'.

In an interview for the New Year Contador said he is ready to get back to racing, which for him is set start at the Tour of Algarve. Reflecting on last season, he said his only compliant was not having enough time to unwind. "The best moments have coincided with competition," he reflected, "because every time I raced the results have been with me and my legs responded. Throughout the whole year I have had great sensations [in my legs]. And worst, well, I cannot say anything because nothing too bad has happened. I cannot complain of 2009, only in a few moments I would have liked to enjoy more peace and quiet."

2009 saw Contador consistently perform well, and his performances, albeit focused, were enough to land him the best rider award in the UCI ProTour classification. "Is the result of a great season, in which I have been very consistent and have been able to take advantage of most of the races I've ridden, even if there weren't many." International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid made the trip to Madrid presenting him with the award just two weeks ago and, at the same time, handed the Spanish National Cycling Federation (RFEC) the prize for the top country.

With his preparation underway, Contador said he is pleased with his sensations on the bike. "I've started training, but not too long ago, because at this time we must match it with some compromises. But I have already finished my first block of training and feelings I have are pretty good. I'm motivated, with enthusiasm and very happy with how I'm feeling on the bike in recent days."

Team Astana will have their first training camp of 2010 in Calpe, Spain in the coming weeks. Contador said he will use the camp for the next step in his preparation. "After having finished my first block of training, now I’ll wait until Calpe’s stage, on January 13th, where we’ll do a first stage of preparation for the season in a place that is very good for training. There we will define our team's goals and programs of each of the riders."

He realizes the team has a lot of work to do to get ready for their big date in July. "Definitely I’ll start at Volta ao Algarve. Last year, I rather liked the race and I think it is ideal to start the season," he explained, but he wants to try to hold back if he can. "In 2009 I won, but this year I'm going to take it relatively calm, although I always like to be good at racing and I want to start."

Contador will continue to follow a similar program to 2009: "Then I’ll go to Paris-Nice, where above all we want to work at team level, coordination and tactics to control the race. Then I plan to run the Volta a Catalunya and the Basque Country probably, but also left open the option of the classics, but that will be examined later."

The defending Tour de France champion is surrounded by new faces in the new year. And while they have a lot to prove to show they can ride for the Spaniard, he sees a motivated team ready to take on the challenge. "Really this team is like we started from scratch," he explained, "because almost everything is new. I am confident about my teammates this year and I think we'll make a strong and competitive team. Everyone is very motivated because we know we will always have a lot of responsibility and cannot go to the races for a walk. The team will be at a maximum level.

While most of the attention in the off-season shuffle was given to the mass exodus of the Tour de France team to RadioShack, another big change that factored into the mix was American bicycle manufacturer Specialized moving over from Quick Step to sponsor the Astana team. Not only will the Tour de France hype include Alberto vs. Lance, but now we will likely see the marketing spin take on a Specialized vs. Trek tone from the American companies. The announcement of the Team Astana sponsorship was only made official by Specialized today, but was admittedly their worst kept secret.

"There have been lots of changes on the team and one of them is what you use most often, the bike," he continued. "I am very happy with Specialized, because I felt very comfortable from the start. The bike meets all my requirements, is rigid, lightweight and above all at Specialized they are open to all suggestions, which is important, because winning often depends on small details. And it’s the same for everything, I am very pleased with all the team material. We have chosen what we thought the best in every case, groups, wheels, tubes, clothing ... For me it is fundamental."

Contador was simple and to the point with his wishes for the new year concluding, "I will not ask for great things in 2010, but personal and sporting health. A few days ago I was very happy that Andy Schleck came out unhurt from the accident he suffered with a car, because he is a companion and a good friend, so that's all I ask, that nothing happens that can spoil the season, that I could train normally and not have any mishaps in my preparation. Everything else will come."

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