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Alberto Contador ended his season on Monday after a crash at Giro di Lombardia dinged his right knee. But his wildly successful 2014 campaign saw him win a sixth grand tour, proving he is still among the sport’s elite.
Contador hit the deck after a pileup on the final turn ahead of the line in Bergamo. He finished 34th in what would be his final ride of the season. He will finish 2014 as the world’s second place rider, ranked behind compatriot Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who regained the lead with a second-place finish on Sunday.
Hearing that Contador would not contest the Tour of Beijing, Valverde has also opted not to travel to China for the season’s final WorldTour event.
All told, Contador is happy with his season, and with good reason. His only true setback was abandoning the Tour de France on stage 10.
“The assessment of the season has been really good, except for the Tour de France, which didn’t finish as I would have preferred. The rest of the season has been very satisfying with good results throughout the year, so I’m happy, and I have to say that it has been possible because of a lot of hard work. This has been one of the toughest seasons of my career, but it paid off with some great results,” the Tinkoff-Saxo rider said via a team release.
Indeed, the 2014 season saw the Spaniard return with aplomb. In addition to the Vuelta, he won Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of the Basque Country. He finished second at the Volta ao Algarve, the Volta a Catalunya, and the Critérium du Dauphiné, after a daring attack by Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) earned the American the top step.
Ever the racer, Contador did express some regret over having to alter his calendar though he did take a parting shot at the Tour of Beijing, which is in its final year.
“Ending the year like this is something I don’t like, because I had a schedule and now I have to interrupt it again,” Contador said. “The Tour of Beijing is not among the most important races on the calendar, but I have to focus on my knee. As a result, I want to stop and make sure that it’s in good condition before I begin preparing for 2015.”
According to the team, Contador is slated to undergo tests on his knee. Next season’s Giro d’Italia remains his first target of the season, as he looks to pull off the Giro-Tour de France double.
Looking to next season, it’s a safe assumption the 98th running of the Giro will suit Contador, as well-rounded and crafty a GC rider as there is in the modern peloton. The 2015 route features a long time trial at nearly 60 kilometers and five high mountain stages.