PAU, France (VN) — Alberto Contador, winner of seven grand tours including two Tours de France, will quit the sport if he no longer can challenge for the big overall victories.
The 34-year-old Spaniard began the Tour de France this July with hopes of winning another title. He has been unable to shine for various reasons, including four crashes over the last week.
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“First he wants to finish here and then think about the future,” coach and Trek-Segafredo sport director Steven De Jongh told VeloNews.
“I’m not going to give any advice. If he wants to continue, he continues. If he really enjoys it and can still deliver those numbers, he can continue.
“If he says, ‘Steven, I can’t do it anymore and it’s too much stress,’ then fair enough. He doesn’t have to show anything to anybody. If that’s when he wants to stop, he stops.
“He’s not going to continue going to grand tours just for stages. He’d just quit because it takes so much from his personal life to be at that level and when he’s not going for the big thing, that doesn’t fit him.”
“I had pretty strong blows, especially on my hip,” Contador said today after stage 11. “Obviously this complicates everything for the Pyrénées, but I’m not going to give up.
“Instead of starting to think about other goals, I’ll have to be even stronger and with more determination. That’s how I’m going to manage this situation and I’ll see what I can do in the rest of the Tour.
“I’ve never believed in bad luck, but this Tour is putting me to the limit, especially mentally, but people who think I’m going to give up do not know me well.”
De Jongh said that after the crashes and time losses — Contador sits 12th overall at 5:15 minutes behind leader Chris Froome — that a stage win is the priority now. Contador may already have his chance tomorrow at the Peyragudes summit finish if he is not injured too much.
“The Tour gave him many positive things in his life and that keeps him up now, that he wants to give something back to the Tour,” De Jongh added. “And if that can happen with a stage win then that would be great. In this moment now, that keeps him going.”
After the Tour, Contador is expected to go home and race his home tour, the Vuelta a España. However, with young cyclists coming through like Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Fabio Aru (Astana) and the continued dominance of Froome, a eighth grand tour win appears more and more impossible for Contador.