Contador, who retired in 2017, won the Giro in 2008 and 2015, and had a third title stripped following a doping sanction. The Spaniard will commentate on the three-week tour, which runs from May 4 to 27, for Spanish-speaking Eurosport.
With the Giro’s total time trial distance down from 69.1 in 2017 to 44.2 kilometers this year, climbers like Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates), Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott), and Miguel Angel López (Astana) will have a better shot at the pink jersey.
“The two time trials [stage 1 and 16] will have an influence on the overall classification, but not much,” Contador told Spanish media.
“A rider like Tom Dumoulin will miss those extra kilometers of time trials because in his last duels with Chris Froome, he has proven superior in this specialty.”
Dumoulin became the first Dutchman to win the Giro d’Italia in 2017 thanks to his win in the 39.8-kilometre time trial mid-race and a strong ride in the mountains. He overtook Nairo Quintana (Movistar) on the last day, a 29.3-kilometer time trial that finished next to Milan’s Duomo.
This year’s race will start in Jerusalem with a 9.7-kilometer time trial. Another one, 34.5 kilometers in length, opens the third week.
“The Giro does not want riders like Fabio Aru or Miguel Angel López, who would be penalized by too many kilometers of time trials, to be discarded too early,” Contador said.
“The mountains will have more influence than the time trials in 2018.”
The Giro d’Italia will climb the famous mountain passes Monte Zoncolan and Colle delle Finestre. In total, the 3562.9-kilometer route features eight summit finishes.
“The Dutchman is the big favorite with Froome, but the Italians always manage to have an impact on this race,” Contador said.
“Miguel Angel López should be watched. The Spaniards? Marc Soler [Movistar], if he races, he can do big things, while David de la Cruz will be working for his team leader [Froome].”
Asked of Froome’s favorite status, Contador was quick to point to the home rider who will hope to take on the Briton.
“OK, but there is also Fabio Aru, who seems to transform in the Giro,” he said.
Froome begins the race with the weight of an investigation on his shoulders. A tribunal will soon rule on his 2017 Vuelta a España anti-doping test, which showed twice the allowed amount of the asthma drug Salbutamol in his urine. He risks losing his Vuelta title and serving a ban.
“He will be in a different situation [starting the race with the case in the background], but once he is on the bike, he will only think about the rivals and the goal that has been set, which in his case is winning the Giro,” Contador said.
“One thing is clear, if the authorities that rule over this sport allow him to race then it’s normal that Froome is competing. What is a pity is that it is taking so much time for this case to be resolved.”
Contador found himself in a similar situation seven years ago. After testing positive for clenbuterol in the 2010 Tour de France, he rode the 2011 Giro while the case was being resolved. When the ruling arrived, he lost his 2010 Tour win and the 2011 Giro win.