Contador will go for Paris-Nice win, still awaiting new time trial bike
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Friday, March 5, 2010

Contador will go for Paris-Nice win, still awaiting new TT bike

by VeloNation Press at 8:53 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Nice

Last year's Tour de France winner Alberto Contador will start his second race of the season this Sunday in Paris-Nice, but will start the race without his new time trial bike from his sponsor Specialized. This will be the Spaniard's first trip to France since last July, and he says he's in "good shape" at this point in the season. Contador won the event in 2007, and last year was poised to add a second victory to his name when he famously bonked his way off the top step of the podium by not eating properly.

Contador is one for one this year, winning the first event he took part in, the Vuelta ao Algarve, and admitted he hasn't done much work since the Portuguese race. Nevertheless, he said he's going to France to win: "Of course, with the team we will try to ride for victory, being in the fight, although it is very difficult to win and there are very strong riders that are better than me, like Luis Leon and Valverde, who have more days of competition. The goal, in any case is to be there."

The 2007 winner says his compatriots from the Caisse d'Epargne will be the top favorites for the race, but there are plenty of others that have the potential to win. "There are riders above me, like Luis Leon or Valverde. Alejandro already knows how to win near here, [he won] at the Tour of the Mediterranean and he has also been in Australia and Almeria," he explained. "At the beginning of the year it is very important to have more days of competition. But in a race like Paris-Nice there are many favorites. There is also Samuel Sanchez, Frank Schleck, Sandy Casar and Chavanel among many others."

Having just gotten over a cold he blames on bad weather in Portugal, Contador isn't sure how he will fare against the other race favorites, but thinks his form from Algarve will carry over.

"I rested a little longer than expected [after Algarve] because it was a tough race and because I had caught a cold," he said. "Then I did a little training with the idea of refreshing the work done during the winter, but do not know if I'm better or worse than in Portugal, because there I rode very well."

He looks at last year's loss in the event as a learning experience and said he won't be taking the start line with redemption in mind. "No, I do not want revenge [from losing last year]. That [the bonk] was a very valuable experience that helped me to know that nothing can be neglected and must pay close attention to the race and be very calculating. It cost me the victory in 2009, yes, but it was a great experience."

Contador likes the course of this year's Paris-Nice, but doesn't think there will be too many opportunities to attack and gain time over the others. "It is a good course," he said, "but the difference is that the mountaintop finish in Mende is short and very explosive. We did it in 2007 and the differences [in time] will be small. This year's victory will be decided by a few seconds and probably the time bonuses will be important. The last three days of mountain will be very difficult to control, as always in Paris-Nice."

In his last race the International Cycling Union (UCI) banned his Specialized Shiv time trial bike. The manufacturer was forced to scramble to get the Spaniard a replacement in time for the final time trial. In the end he did get his replacement, but Contador lost the stage to Caisse d'Epargne's Luis León Sánchez by seconds on a bike he wasn't comfortable on. It wasn't a total loss for Contador though, as he was able to ride well enough to salvage his race and secure the overall.

In a carbon copy of Algarve, he admitted he still doesn't have the machine he will use for the time trial in Paris-Nice, but is hopeful it will get there in time. "I hope so, that I will no longer use the bike I had in Algarve. It [the new bike] has not yet arrived from the United States, but it will get here on time and I’ll do my best. The course doesn't have any climbs, it's 8 kilometers that are fairly flat, but still I hope to be up with the leaders. Last year I got the victory, but this time I don't think I’m at the same level."

With the time gaps expected to be small whether or not he's comfortable on his time trial bike could be the difference in his bid for the overall.


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