Alberto Contador reaches the start of the Vuelta a España after overcoming all the setbacks and injuries that forced him to abandon the Tour de France in July. After a period of recovery and fine-tuning, Tinkoff’s leader is optimistic a few days prior to the start in Ourense. “I think I’m well, but the good thing is that I am keen to go on the bike, which is important.”
Alberto Contador raced at the Clasica San Sebastian and the Vuelta a Burgos in preparation for the Vuelta. “I haven’t had many tests to see how I am, practically only in Burgos. From there I focused on recovering from the effort and doing some quality training, but that race is very different from the Vuelta, in terms of days of competition and the level of its line-up.” That was the end of the long period since he withdrew from the Tour de France, “a time that was particularly difficult until I started competing, since the Tour was my number one goal of the year and it started on the wrong foot and finished by retiring. That really comes often back to my head and is hard to beat psychologically. On the other hand, physically it has also been difficult because at first I could not train and that forced me to look a lot after my nutrition, taking into consideration how hard it is to immediately change your mindset when you come from a period of racing.”
However, all that is behind and now Contador focuses only on his next challenge. “Certainly, my goal at the Vuelta is to fight for victory. That’s the idea with which I am going to Galicia, we will then see if we can achieve it, because I will have to face very strong opponents with powerful squads. We will have to take it day-by-day and I just hope I’m a little bit luckier to enjoy the race and the fans. At the Vuelta, the affection of the public has always been amazing and reliving that is something I look forward to. Furthermore, this will be my last Grand Tour with Tinkoff and I would like to finish it in the best way.”
Alberto Contador, winner of the 2016 Vuelta a Burgos ahead of La Vuelta. Photo courtesy of Vuelta a Burgos
On this year’s race course, Alberto thinks it is “a typical Vuelta parcours, with many short and explosive finishes, without any previous mountain passes, a little bit like the Classics, which will be made complicated because you might have a bad day or rivals that are more explosive. They will be difficult to manage, but overall I like the course because it is designed to bring forward the show and it is important that people engage in the race.”
Alberto’s rivals will be the ones of the Tour with some additions, a line-up that for Alberto is “a great motivation. The level is very high, because in the end, each year the favourites of the Tour are in the Vuelta and that makes me happy. This marquee line-up will raise great expectations.” On the other hand, this will not be a revenge of the Tour. “No, it’s not a matter of revenge, the Vuelta is another race that starts from scratch and I just hope to start on a better footing than the Tour.”
Alberto Contador does not forget the riders that will flank him at the Vuelta. “We will have a Tinkoff squad, very balanced between youth and experience, with many riders that already know what it means to race at the Vuelta a España. There are very good riders for the team time trial and the climbs, but the best part is that they are all very motivated to race at the Vuelta and that’s fundamental.”
The full Tinkoff line-up for the 71st Vuelta a España will be announced tomorrow morning, with the race getting underway with a team time trial on Saturday.