Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) says he is still feeling the effects of a spring cold ahead of Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne in what will be his only spring classic of the season.
Contador was third last year at Flèche behind winner Cadel Evans and compatriot Joaquím Rodríguez, but the “pistolero del Pinto” admits he won’t be at his best for the final charge up the Mur de Huy.
“Physically, I feel well and it’s a race I like, but health-wise I am not where I’d like to be,” Contador said Tuesday in a team statement. “I started the Castilla y León not feeling great and it’s since gotten worse. I thought I would get better faster, so I don’t think I’ll be at my best. If it’s like that, I will try to help my teammates.”
Flèche Wallonne will be Contador’s his first race beyond the Pyrénées since he was cleared to return to racing by the Spanish cycling federation in mid-February. Contador’s fate will be decided at the Court of Arbitration for Sport sometime in late June; until that hearing, he is free to race.
This will be Contador’s fourth trip to the Ardennes classics since turning pro, though this year he’s only racing Flèche.
“These (Belgian) races are incredible for their fans, how they go crazy. Here, cycling is the top sport, and it’s like soccer is in Spain,” Contador said. “It’s because of that I was especially motivated to come back, even though I am not in the best health.”
Contador will skip to Liège-Bastogne-Liège and is expected to head to Italy to scout some of the stages featured in the upcoming Giro d’Italia. It will be Contador’s first trip back to the Giro since winning the maglia rosa three years ago.
“Once this cold clears up, I believe that I will arrive to the Giro in good condition, because I still have time to recover. I will arrive with good training, a good base of work and with a lot of motivation,” Contador said. “I have a lot of fond memories of the Giro in 2008. I have a lot of motivation to race it again.”
Saxo Bank-Sungard for Flèche Wallonne: Alberto Contador, Jesús Hernández, Mads Christensen, Rafal Majka, Nick Nuyens, Nicki Sörensen, Chris-Anker Sörensen, Brian Vandborg