Contador downplays form ahead of season opener

Alberto Contador's winter training has gone to plan, but with the Giro/Tour double looming, he has dialed back the early season intensity

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) enters this week’s Ruta del Sol stage race — his first matchup with rival Chris Froome — following winter training that went largely to plan. But to win so early in the season, and against such an adversary? That, Contador said, will be “complicated.”

“I’m a rider that likes to give the maximum in every race, and this is what I will do here as well. It will be my physical condition that decides how it all goes,” he said. “I will do my best to finish with a result as good as possible, but if we refer to winning, I think it is complicated.”

The looming burden of tackling the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in the same season led Contador to dial back his winter training, the Spaniard said Tuesday in a Tinkoff-Saxo press statement.

“This year, I put on a little less intensity, thinking precisely on the Giro and the Tour. I wanted to have a good level, but not wear me out more than necessary. Maybe I’m a little further back than last year,” he said.

The route of the early season Spanish race, won by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) for the past three years, suits Contador this year, with a time trial and two uphill finishes. “I am familiar with the third stage, Hazallanas, and I know it’s particularly hard. That’s where we will see how I compare to the other riders,” Contador said.

The Spaniard will line up next to teammate Ivan Basso for the first time. The two-time Giro d’Italia winner will likely help guide Contador through Italy’s greatest race this year, and the two have set about establishing a rapport this winter.

“It is a dream for me to have him on my team,” Contador said. “We have an extraordinary relationship and I am honored that a champion of his level will work for me.”