ABU DHABI (VN) — Alberto Contador’s split with team Tinkoff has been uneasy. He says the objectives of his new team, Trek – Segafredo, will be clearer in 2017.
The Spaniard and seven-time grand tour champion is leaving the disbanding Tinkoff, which also focused on Peter Sagan’s stage wins and green jersey in the Tour de France.
“I think the objectives will be clearer in the different races,” Contador said Wednesday when asked how his life will change on the American WorldTour team.
Pushed, he explained further: “It’s hard to have a very good team around a leader in all the races and you need a good program so that the team is 100 percent at the Tour. Next year, we will look at everything for the overall [classification] and that is crucial.”
Contador, who hails from Madrid’s outskirts, had just arrived in the Middle East for the start of the Abu Dhabi Tour, which runs Thursday through Sunday. It is his first race since the Vuelta a España and it’s also Tinkoff’s final race.
Times have not been easy between Contador and team owner Oleg Tinkov. The Russian criticized him on Twitter after Contador’s 2013 Tour and this month, he took a parting shot at the Spanish star.
“I respect him as a rider for his past but as a person he’s never really appealed to me. I don’t like him. Even in the team, most of the riders don’t like him,” Tinkov told Cyclingnews.
“The [farewell] party will be better without him anyway because he’s a sad person. He never really wants to drink champagne and is always careful about what he eats because he’s focused on winning the Tour de France in July. That’s why he kept crashing.”
Contador had to pull out of Il Lombardia because he said he was sick. He said Wednesday the Abu Dhabi Tour was not on his program. Perhaps to disrespect Tinkov, Contador went for a ride the day before the race with the team’s farewell retro jersey unzipped while photographers tried to snap a shot.
Contador remains one of cycling’s top grand tour cyclists with Chris Froome (Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). This year, however, did not go well for the 33-year-old. He crashed twice in the opening two days of the Tour and had to abandon. At the same time, reports surfaced that he would join Trek and leave Tinkoff, which was folding anyway. In the Vuelta, he suffered and crashed but rebounded to finish fourth overall.
“I had different emotions during the 2016 season. I was very happy in the first part because my performance was very high, one of the highest in my whole career. This changed my vision for the future and I took the decision to continue,” Contador said.
“I’m not happy with the result in the Tour de France. I trained very hard for this race and with the falls, everything went out. I tried to continue but I wasn’t in the condition to fight for victory.
“In the Vuelta, I also don’t have the best memories. I crashed before the big mountain stage and we lost big time in the team time trial, which was not good. I enjoyed the race but my objective wasn’t to fight for third position but to fight for the win. But it’s all motivation for the next year.”
Contador, with the usual cluster of microphones and recorders inches away from his face, said the Tour will be his No. 1 goal in 2017. Organizer ASO unveiled the route Tuesday.
“I haven’t seen the stage profiles, so it’s difficult to say if I like it or not,” Contador explained. “It’s not bad not to have a final 55-kilometer flat time trial. I like that it’s shorter and think it means the race will be more open until the finale.”