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Contador promises Tour fight despite Sky’s lofty budget

Alberto Contador is already preparing for another assault on the Tour de France, but the veteran Spanish star admits he’s facing a financial headwind against archrival Team Sky.

Set to join Trek – Segafredo for 2017, Contador told the Spanish sports daily MARCA that Team Sky’s financial backing makes for an uneven battle in the season’s top stage race.

“They have a 35-million-euro budget ($38 million), and we are working on this situation, but it’s complicated to compete in these conditions,” Contador told MARCA. “They can make two or three high-level teams for the Tour, but we are working hard in order that we all arrive at the highest level for the Tour.”

Contador’s comments come as he hit a training camp in Spain’s Canary islands to begin preparation for the 2017 season. After an acrimonious split with former team owner Oleg Tinkov, Contador seems relieved for a new start with Trek.

He said he hopes to have the full support of his new team for next year’s Tour, alluding that that wasn’t always the case at Tinkoff, which also raced with world champion Peter Sagan. Insiders said Contador grumbled at a lack of support in the major grand tours in 2016.

“The key [to winning] is to have a great team. Without one, it’s impossible,” Contador said. “You could do it in the past, but if you do not have a strong team, it’s impossible to win.”

Contador’s efforts to win another yellow jersey since 2011 have stalled, either through bad form or crashes. A winner of seven grand tours (two were erased from his controversial clenbuterol case), Contador — who turns 34 next month — still believes he can win another Tour.

“The objective is the Tour,” Contador said. “I am going to work for the big goal, because I always try to win. Sometimes the race turns out differently, like what happened in the Vuelta.”

Contador joins Trek on a two-year deal. Following the retirements of Frank Schleck, Fabian Cancellara, and Ryder Hesjedal, he will immediately step in with ambitions of racing for the GC. Though he has not outlined his 2017 calendar, Contador is expected to put the Tour at the center of his plans next season. He brings longtime confidante Jesus Hernandez with him to Trek, along with Ivan Basso and Stephen De Jongh as support staff.

“There are other teams with bigger budgets, but we are going to prepare very hard to be a strong team and compete with the best,” Contador said. “We need to build a strong team on and off the road.”

Whether that is strong enough to take on Sky and “Fortress Froome” remains to be seen.

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