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For the offseason, Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) sure has been busy of late.
Over the past few weeks, the Spanish star has visited Brazil, hit the wind tunnel in the United States, and is now joining his teammates on Spain’s Canary Islands for a preseason training camp.
It’s all part of an effort to put his 2014 season on a good track, with the ultimate goal of racing competitively at both the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España.
“Every year you analyze what you’ve done, and go over what didn’t work out,” Contador told Sport.es from Spain’s Gran Canaria. “You analyze yourself and look at the others. That’s how to learn, to not repeat the errors, and to keep progressing.”
For 2014, the stakes are even higher for Contador and his quest to win another yellow jersey.
Racing in his first complete season since 2009, Contador never found his footing in 2013, riding to his worst season in years. He managed to win just one race and fell short at his major goal of the Tour, riding to a less-than-expected fourth place overall without seriously challenging eventual winner Chris Froome (Sky).
One reason Contador cited for his lackluster season was his inability to build a solid base going into 2013. Contador admitted he was distracted by off-bike commitments and far-flung racing appearances in Argentina and Oman. Though he raced consistently near the top, he was flat by Contador standards, only mustering one win at the Tour de San Luís in January, and then passed on defending his Vuelta title.
To fix that, he’s been quietly posting kilometers and will hold off racing until February, racing only in Europe, with an eye on hitting peak form for the Tour, Vuelta, and perhaps the world championships on his home roads in Spain in September.
Contador is expected to debut his 2014 season at the Volta ao Algarve (February 19-23) rather than the mid-January race at the Tour de San Luís in Argentina, where he’s started the past two seasons. He’ll also skip racing at the Tour of Oman, where he finished second to Froome in February this year.
Contador also looks likely to race Paris-Nice, the Volta a Catalunya, and the Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) as part of an early season racing program that doesn’t look to stray too far from the script he’s followed in the past.
The 30-year-old confirmed again he’s poised to race both the Tour and Vuelta next season, something that will be more than welcomed by Vuelta officials. The Spanish tour’s route won’t be unveiled until early January, but regardless of what they come up with, the Tour and another showdown with Froome will be the central focus of season.
“I want to go to the three-week tours with all possible guarantees, and that includes the Vuelta a España,” Contador continued. “I am going to win, I cannot permit myself to be second.”
Contador will remain on Gran Canaria through December 2 for more team-building exercises with his Saxo teammates. They’ll be back in the trenches for real soon enough.