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Alberto Contador pushed himself hard during his...

Still sore from Giro, Contador returns to racing to prep for Tour

The Spaniard is still sore from winning the Giro d'Italia, but he's ready to return to racing this week ahead of the Tour de France

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) admits he’s still tired from his efforts to win the Giro d’Italia last month, but vows to press on with his ambitious plans of tackling the Tour de France.

More than two weeks have passed since he was victorious in Milano, completing the first half of the historic Giro-Tour double attempt, but the efforts to win the pink jersey were perhaps more taxing than he expected.

In an interview released by his team Tuesday, Contador said he’s still feeling the Giro in his legs just as he’s set to return to competition with the Route du Sud (June 18-21) across the Pyrénées.

“Physically and muscularly, I still feel the wear from the Giro, especially that of the final week, which was very hard. As a result, I tried above all to rest as much as possible during this time,” Contador said in a team release. “I focused on recovering and I have only done three days of specific training to activate my body.”

Contador will join Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in the four-day Route du Sud. The race features some tough climbing, but Contador is thinking more about putting some race speed in his legs than focusing on the overall. With the Tour de France set to start July 4 in Utrecht, Netherlands, the 32-year-old Spaniard wants to ease into the demands of the Tour trying to save as much strength as possible.

“I don’t know how I will do [at Route du Sud]. I was very careful about everything after the Giro, with both rest and nutrition, which is a bit complicated, because you have to try to eat as little as possible, which is the opposite from during competition,” Contador explained. “The most important thing is to put some race speed in my legs and get moving again, to allow me to do some good training at race speed.”

After celebrating his Giro victory in his hometown of Pinto south of Madrid, Contador traveled to the high-altitude Italian valley of Livigno, located near the Gavia and Stelvio passes at 1,800 meters above sea level. In sharp contrast to such altitude destinations as Tenerife or Sierra Nevada, Livigno allows riders to train at altitude on flat roads.

For the Tour, Contador remains cautiously optimistic he can fight for the yellow jersey. No one’s pulled off the elusive Giro-Tour double since Marco Pantani in 1998, and only seven riders have achieved the milestone in the sport’s history. That challenge is giving Contador the motivation he said he needs to keep training and suffering into July.

“I see it with uncertainty, but also with the motivation to experience something that is new to me. I’m mentally very excited and motivated with this challenge,” Contador said of the double. “Physically, when I get up, my legs still hurt, I feel some muscle fatigue, but this is normal. If it were easy, I wouldn’t have this motivation and, on second thought, there are still more days ahead to recover than days that have passed since the end of the Giro. I hope to reach the start in top condition.”