A ESTRADA, Spain (VN) — Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) is defending his decision to skip the upcoming road world championships on his home roads in Ponferrada, Spain.
Contador confirmed during Tuesday’s rest day at the Vuelta a Espana he would not race on the hilly course in northwest Spain, a decision that drew criticism from some quarters that suggested the Spanish superstar should do more to support the national team in an important world championships.
On Wednesday, Contador said the Ponferrada course is simply not well suited for him, and said that other riders could do a better job than he could on the circuit course.
“I renounced the worlds because one has to be realistic. I am a grand tour rider, and the course does not fit my characteristics at all,” Contador said. “I give up my spot to other riders who can work and who could do a better job than me.”
Contador’s decision to skip the Ponferrada worlds was immediately interpreted by some that the Spanish superstar did not want to work to help compatriots Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) or Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) to try to win the worlds.
Rodríguez and Valverde, second and third, respectively, in last year’s emotional finale in Italy, will start as five-star favorites on the course.
Others suggested that the Contador decision to skip the worlds reveals a rift between Valverde and Rodríguez on one side, and Contador on the other. On Wednesday, Contador shrugged off any suggestion of tension among the Spanish riders.
“There are always people who talk, but that’s coming from Italy, and perhaps they want to destabilize the Spanish team,” Contador continued. “Those who suggest that I do not get along with Alejandro or ‘Purito’ is laughable. It appears to be a joke. I have a superb relationship with Valverde and Rodríguez, and the fact that I am not racing at Ponferrada is only a sporting question.”
Contador repeated that other riders are better suited for the Ponferrada course, which features two short climbs and is expected to finish in a reduced bunch sprint.
Contador also suggested that Valverde should be the singular captain for Spain.
“It’s a perfect situation. I believe the leader should be Alejandro,” he said. “He’s a great rider, and he should bring a lot of riders from his team to work as a unit. It’s good to have a clear leader, and in this case, it’s Alejandro, who is the maximum favorite, and all can go for him, even though Rodríguez can play a key role.”
Contador has never won the world title, and competed in the past two worlds. In 2012, he finished ninth in the individual time trial and 37th in the road race, while last year he did not finish.