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Two grand tours in one season are enough for Alberto Contador.
Despite a call to arms from Tinkoff-Saxo team owner Oleg Tinkov for cycling’s biggest stars to compete in all three grand tours in one season, Contador confirmed he’s only thinking about targeting two for 2015.
And more specifically, the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France, meaning Contador is not planning on defending his Vuelta a Espana crown, a blow for Spanish fans and media.
Speaking to Spanish radio from Africa as part of a team expedition to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Contador reconfirmed his plans for 2015, and they do not include all three grand tours.
“The basic plan I have now is to race the Giro and Tour, a challenge that is already very difficult, and one that will require all of my strength,” Contador told COPE radio. “I know that at any moment you can hurt your chances for the Tour, but the Giro is a race that really motivates me, and one that I like a lot.”
Contador and his Tinkoff teammates and staffers are already on the flanks of Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, as part of an ambitious offseason team-building exercise. Poor weather, however, might prevent the team from making a push for the summit at nearly 6,000 meters above sea level.
“We are completely out of touch with the world up here, inside a tent, with hot water, coffee, and chocolate to keep us warm,” Contador told COPE. “It shouldn’t be that hard [to climb], but we’re having some bad luck. It’s been raining every day, and it’s very cold.”
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Last month, Tinkov made headlines when he suggested the sport’s biggest stars, such as Contador and Chris Froome (Sky), should race all three grand tours in the same season, even offering a 1 million euro payoff to entice them to the line. The flamboyant Russian has since retreated on the notion, but the idea continues to resonate across the peloton.
Contador, meanwhile, continues to broaden his plans for 2015. After his comeback season in 2014, earning him the Velo d’Or prize in France as the year’s best rider, Contador is set on reconfirming his status as the king of the grand tours.
It remains unclear what his chief rivals will be doing next season. Froome has hinted he might not even race the Tour, while Giro champ Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) have not confirmed their schedules yet. Both Quintana and Nibali are expected to put the Tour as the season’s top priority, perhaps setting the stage for another Froome-Contador clash at the Giro next May.
Contador has often said he enjoys racing in Italy, citing the history, challenging terrain, and enthusiastic fan base. He won the Giro in 2008, but saw his 2011 victory disqualified as part of his two-year, backdated clenbuterol ban.
First, however, he needs to get off Mount Kilimanjaro in one piece.