Giro d'Italia
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) is about to embark...

Alberto Contador: “The Tour alone doesn’t motivate me 100 percent”

The difficulty of the Giro/Tour double provides Alberto Contador with the motivation needed to reach his peak

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) isn’t thinking about the Tour de France. He’s not yet pondering the slopes of Alpe d’Huez, or the damage three grueling weeks of the Giro d’Italia will do to his legs, or how he’ll overcome fresher men in July. The Giro begins Saturday, and Contador has this far more pressing challenge to attend to.

Last fall, the Spaniard set himself a goal left unaccomplished since Marco Pantani in 1998: to win both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France in the same year.

Giro and the Tour have fused into a single goal, Contador said, and he’s equally motivated for both. “I give the same importance to both because for me, the two are only one thing,” he said.

Of course, there can be no double without the Giro in his pocket come June.

That seems obvious, but it has an important consequence. Contador can’t hold back over the coming weeks. If he risks riding the Giro with one leg, so to speak, to save the other for the Tour, he could very well end up without a win in Italy or France.

“In a big tour you don’t have many tactical options, and I will be fully focused on the Giro,” he said at the Giro’s pre-race press conference.

It won’t be until after the race, then, that he’ll “have time to concentrate on recovering ahead of the Tour and [think] about it,” he said.

Why tackle the double, when a miscalculation of form or a moment of bad luck could quite easily send Contador away winless? When racing the Giro undoubtedly decreases his chances in France? Perhaps it is the shadow of Miguel Indurain, the last Spaniard to do the double, that chases Contador toward the challenge. The Tour alone no longer provides the provocation necessary, Contador said.

“In the past years, the motivation for the Tour completely fulfilled me, but now maybe the Tour alone doesn’t motivate me 100 percent,” Contador said. “The double is something new, and it will always motivate me more.”

In an odd turn of fate, Contador’s crash and subsequent abandonment at last year’s Tour de France was a catalyst for this year’s experiment. More specifically, his victory at the Vuelta a España, which came after a short recovery period from the broken tibia sustained at the Tour, gave him the confidence to tackle a grand tour under less-than-ideal conditions.

“[The crash] had a great influence on my decision to do the Giro and Tour,” Contador said. “Because after the fall I went to the Vuelta a España not at my full strength but in the end I got a great victory. It gave me confidence to try this.”