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Contador ready for Castilla y León and Ardennes classics

Alberto Contador is hoping to use this week’s Castilla y León tour – which clicks into gear Wednesday – as a springboard into the Ardennes classics.

Alberto Contador is hoping to use this week’s Castilla y León tour – which clicks into gear Wednesday – as a springboard into the Ardennes classics.

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Man and machine. Contador says he's ready for the next phase of his season.

Contador will race Flèche Wallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège next week, but has an opportunity at the five-day Spanish race to win his third stage-race in four starts so far in 2010.

“It’s a race that I am confronting with a lot of excitement,” Contador said. “It’s a beautiful race … and we’ll see how the legs respond, because it’s been almost two weeks since the last race.”

Contador last raced at the Critérium International, where he was zapped by allergies and couldn’t pull off the victory on the heels over wins at his season debut at the Tour of the Algarve and Paris-Nice.

The two-time Tour de France champion is also a two-time winner at Castilla y León (2007-08) and finished second last year behind former teammate Levi Leipheimer.

Contador is coming off training sessions in the mountains near Madrid with teammate and training partner Jesús Hernández. The pair traveled together Tuesday to Burgos in northern Spain ahead of the start of the race.

“Like I always say, of course I like to be at a high level wherever I race and be up in the GC, even though I don’t know what my level will be or that of my rivals,” he said. “It will also be a little bit of preparation for the classics at Flèche and Liège, even though at those races I ought to go thinking about gaining experience, because I don’t know them very well and there are other who know them a lot better than me.”

Despite having a physique ideal for the demanding Ardennes classics, Contador has only raced twice in Flèche and Liège. In 2006, he was 45th at Flèche and 81st at Liège, while in 2007, he was 54th in Flèche and 26th in Liège.

Contador will also debut a new Specialized bike at the Castilla y León tour, with a color scheme based on his “triple crown,” with yellow for the Tour, pink for the Giro and red for the Vuelta.