Contador put on a climbing exhibition in the second ascent to Alto do Malhao with a late attack. Thanks to the committed effort of the squad to keep the race under control and position Contador for the climb, Tinkoff’s leader took the stage win while securing the third place overall.
Despite a slow start to the Volta ao Algarve, Contador fired today his first warning shot of the season, on the fifth and final stage that took the peloton from Almodôvar to the famous climb of Alto do Malhão. After 169km and four climbs, it was on the second ascent of the 45km loop that Contador took matter into his own hands and staged his attack.
A group of nine escapees was formed in the early kilometers of the race and Tinkoff together with Movistar set a ferocious pace, working hard to haul back the breakaway. Paulinho, Trofimov and Kiserlovski then protected Contador until the final three kilometers in a compact group, when Contador staged a solo attack and powered ahead. Fabio Aru responded but Contador went on and crossed the finish line victorious, with 20-second lead over the Italian.
“There was a breakaway of nine riders early on,” stated Sport Director Steven De Jongh “nothing really important for the GC. As a result, we decided to work together with Movistar and we each put one rider. First it was Jesús Hernández and then Michael Valgren, who did a lot of work, while the rest of the squad did their part. In the finale Sergio Paulinho, Yuri Trofimov and Roberts Kiserlovski took the reins to support Alberto and put him in a good position for the climb. Alberto showed his form and did one very good attack, which was enough to net him the stage win. He rode away and there was nobody that could follow him.”
“The mountain finish on the second stage was a little bit disappointing of course,” continued de Jongh, “but it’s also seven months since Alberto did his last race, which was the Tour de France. You can’t expect him to be in excellent form from the start and today he showed he was really a lot better. I think this is surely promising for the upcoming races and I believe it is all good.”
“I knew I was coming to Portugal in good form,” commented Contador after today’s stage win. “I hadn’t raced since a number of months and on the second stage, I probably lacked a bit of energy in the final part, that’s why I lost more time than I would have lost under normal conditions. For that reason, for me, today was an important day. I had the legs and I was feeling I could win. That’s why the squad worked together with Movistar and we clinched the win. I’m very happy with this victory and I’d like to dedicate it to Oleg Tinkov and Tinkoff Bank for their backing and the trust they have shown through their sponsorship during the last four years. It’s, obviously, easier to win when you have that kind of support. We will keep fighting, with our sights always set on the big goal of the year, the Tour de France.”
“I’d also like to thank the whole team for their hard work at the Volta ao Algarve, some days with no payout, but today we topped it off and grabbed the victory. I’m happy I stepped on the podium and as I said, the last time I raced was at the Tour de France last year, so it’s always encouraging to debut with a victory. It boosts your confidence but at the same time we shouldn’t rest on our laurels. We have to stay concentrated and deliver,” continued Contador.
“My next goal is Paris-Nice, a race in which I last competed in 2010. I’ll be back this year and I hope I’ll be able to obtain a good result”, concluded Contador.