Alberto Contador says he's still improving
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Friday, January 29, 2010

Contador still improving

by Bjorn Haake at 3:26 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Bad news for those who hope to unseat Alberto Contador in a Grand Tour, as the Spaniard doesn't think he has reached his maximum yet. His physical abilities put him past his rivals, but his calm approach also helps him stay concentrated when the going gets tough. Contador explained in an interview with Spanish sports paper Marca that things like a little 'wheel affair' won't shake him.

Contador understands very well that everybody asks him about Lance Armstrong, his former teammate and bitterest rival in the 2009 Tour de France. Contador doesn't give it much thought. "The best way to deal with it is not to spend any energy thinking about it."

What Armstrong throws as criticism, Contador takes as a compliment. The Texan's recent  'concern' about Contador still hanging out with the same people doesn't bother the Spaniard. "I am the opposite of him [Armstrong]," Contador said. "I am super proud to have my family on my side, the same friends as always. I still live in my village and I haven't changed my being one bit. With these declarations he praised me."

Favors to Armstrong?

While Bruyneel said there were no favors for Armstrong over Contador last season, the Spaniard isn't so sure. "There were difficult times, especially during the Tour. In some stages I wanted to go a different pace, to get a bigger gap. But in the end the result was good - let's leave it at that."

While admitting that he and Armstrong mostly had the same material at their disposal, he confirmed that this was not the case with the wheels. "Johan knows how it was, and I don't think there is any need for more explanations." When Marca reminded him that Bruyneel said the wheels were the same, Contador replied swiftly. "Johan knows the truth."

Overall, 2009 was quite stressful for Contador. "Last year I intended not to waste any energy [about the question who is the captain], neither during the race nor outside of it." With an ambitious Armstrong in his team, things weren't always easy, but Contador hopes for better times. "This year, the feeling in the team is much more relaxed."

Contador has not closed the door, however, to shake hands with Armstrong again. "I am not a person who likes conflicts with anybody and I have no problem carrying a relationship with mutual respect."

Contador believes in his team and material

There were questions over finances in the winter and Contador was negotiating to leave Astana, but now everything is settled. "Every time I am more convinced that I will have a competitive team during the Tour. We don't have the names like the others, but we do have good riders, too." In addition to the foreigners, Contador is impressed with the Kazakh riders. "They have developed a lot on their fitness and really have brought up their level."

Contador will continue to work on his time trialing, although he had to start a little bit from scratch. "The material is different this year, we have a new bicycle [Specialized] and I need to perfect it and adjust it to my measures. We worked really hard on that and I think in the end we will have a great bicycle." Contador admitted it was hard to switch out a bike that he has used for years. "But the first impressions are very good."

Besides the team and the material, Contador himself is progressing. "I am 27 years old and I think I can still improve, in the time trial as well as in the mountains. The data is currently better than in the past."

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