Contador recieves new Shiv, ready for Paris-Nice Time Trial
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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Contador recieves new Shiv, ready for Paris-Nice Time Trial

by Steve Jones at 2:18 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Nice

Two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador is set to start his second race of the season tomorrow in Paris-Nice, and says he has received his new Specialized Shiv time trial bike for the opening 8 kilometer effort. In the recent Volta ao Algarve the International Cycling Union (UCI) banned his previous Specialized Shiv time trial bike informing the Spaniard that the machine didn't comply with their regulations.

Specialzed was forced to work fast to get Contador a replacement in time for the race's time trial a few days later. In the end he did get his replacement, but likely lost valuable seconds during the stage, finishing on the heels of Caisse d'Epargne's Luis León Sánchez who won the race. It wasn't a total loss for Contador though, as he was able to ride the unfamiliar bike well enough to salvage his efforts of the week and secure the overall victory.

"It's a hard course, and although it's only 8 km, you have the opportunity to make larger time differences than you normally would over some riders," Contador said at a pre-race press conference. "With the bike [he just received from Specialized], there is a big difference. This is the ‘Shiv’, which is the bike I used to train and it's completely different from the one I used Algarve. I hope to have a good start tomorrow."

There is a lot more to getting used to riding a time trial bike than a traditional road bike. Even the very best time trial bikes available take time to adapt to because the machine's setup isn't well suited for cornering and technical maneuvers, but rather for all out speed. Now that Contador will have the identical geometry he used to train with over the winter, his time over using an unfamiliar bike will naturally improve.

Contador admitted that he thinks having his new Shiv will make a difference in tomorrow's race. "They are completely different because this version [of the Shiv] has evolved one step further, it's faster in the wind tunnel, lighter and stiffer. There are many details that have changed and it's all for the better."

On the eve of last year's Paris-Nice Contador said he would never be a good time trialist. He then proceeded to scorch the field in the week-long event's race against the clock and, later that year, put the hurt on Saxo Bank's time trial world champion Fabian Cancellara in the Tour de France's final time trial.

He said there are a lot of factors that have helped him rise through the ranks of the time trial specialists quickly, citing his equipment, attention to detail and ability to quickly find his form. It might seem easy to everyone watching, but he insists the biggest factor is his work ethic. "Most importantly," he said, "is the very, very hard work behind this. It may seem like I am riding the race and winning because of my [natural] strength, but it's really because of the work."

When asked, he said that things are going well with the Astana team so far this year: "Yes, this year I am much more calm and can focus on my sporting goals. I am also very happy with the team because I am communicating with all of the riders and, for example, there are many who wanted to come to this race and there was not room for everyone. This indicates the great motivation they have."

The team's performance in the Volta ao Algarve was impressive to the Spaniard, but he also knows that the the Tour de France is on a completely different level than the Portuguese race. "Of course the team had a very good performance in the Algarve. It was incredible. I hope it stays that way all year, but it is also true that to control a race like the Tour de France is not the same. In any case, I'm sure I will have a very strong and very competitive team, even though others [RadioShack and Saxo Bank] might have more names and more experience."

The Spaniard doesn't expect any big time gaps to come out of tomorrow's stage, but thinks it will give him a good gauge of how well he's going. "It will be a good test for me. I'll give it my best effort and hope to do well, but whether I win or not, I will be within 2 or 3 seconds [of the winner]," he predicted. "There are other riders who are very strong - for tomorrow there is a large group of favorites like [David] Millar, [Christian] Vandevelde, Samuel Sanchez, Luis Leon [Sanchez], [Sylvain] Chavanel ... and many others I have not mentioned. I hope to have a good day, but the differences will be minimal."

Paris-Nice marks Contador's first trip back to France since winning the Tour last July.


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