Contador says winning Murcia will be difficult, but he’ll try to improve on Algarve performance
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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Contador says winning Murcia will be difficult, but he’ll try to improve on Algarve performance

by Conal Andrews at 8:18 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Saxo Bank SunGard rider begins Spanish race on Friday

Alberto ContadorHaving finished fourth overall in the first race of his 2011 season, the Volta ao Algarve, Alberto Contador has said that he is aiming higher in his next race. He will begin the Vuelta a Murcia on Friday and while he is not certain how he will fare against the other big names, he believes that he could finish on the podium or better.

“I did good training in Mallorca,” he said, referring to his post-race schedule. “I tried to recover from the effort of the Algarve and although there was not very good weather there, I hope that step by step I'll go a little better every day.”

Contador said that not much time has passed since the end of Algarve, and that he hadn’t increased his level that much, but that he nevertheless is aiming to improve on his result. The quality of the field will be higher than the Portuguese race, as he will be up against the likes of Ivan Basso (Liquigas), Denis Menchov and Carlos Sastre (Team Geox), Janez Brajkovic and Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack)

“There will be riders in Murcia who are more trained than me, who are riding very strongly and who are top-level cyclists,” he said. “Winning is very difficult but I’ll be there to see what the final result is. I go wanting to enjoy [being with] the team and trying to be there, to see what feelings I have and to see if I feel better than the first race. The idea is to see what my position is [now].”

The 2.1-ranked event begins Friday with an undulating 179 kilometre stage to Alhama de Murcia. A more mountainous and slightly longer race to the Centro de Interpretación de Sierra Espuna follows on Saturday. This should make a big difference in the general classification, even though there is a downhill after the final climb.

The race then concludes with a 12.4 kilometre time trial in and around Murcia itself.

Contador said he is looking forward to taking part. “I love this race and I have good memories of 2008 (when he finished third overall). It's a shame the race had to be reduced to three days due to financial problems, but three spectacular stages remain. The first one has a lot of climbs and descents but may finish with a sprint, the second one provides a good opportunity for climbers, and then the final time trial. It will be three intense days.”

Day two’s ascent of the Collado Bermejo will be important, but he’s not certain if it will be as decisive as it could have been. “It is a hard climb, but there remains the question of how much it can break up the race, especially since then will be eight km downhill where you can always reconnect if you have only lost a little time. You never know how hard the climb will be.”

Strengthening legal team:

The Spaniard is building racing fitness after a long period of time sidelined due to his positive test for Clenbuterol. As the UCI and WADA are entitled to appeal the Spanish Federation’s decision if they see fit, he knows that there is a chance that he could yet be handed a ban. With that in mind, it was announced today that he has signed Belgian lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont to his legal team. Dupont has represented many sportspeople during his legal career, and played an important role in soccer’s Bosman case.

“[He] arrives to bring his extensive experience to this case and is already working on preparing the defense of Alberto Contador in anticipation of future events,” said Contador’s representatives in a statement.

The Tour de France winner has said that he leaves the legal matters to those representing him, and will concentrate instead on his racing. He has confirmed his next four events; after Murcia, he will compete in the
Volta a Catalunya, the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon and Fleche Wallonne prior to the Giro d'Italia.

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